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Nothing lights up the night like an effervescent cocktail. Bubbly drinks are fun and festive, and can turn any occasion into a celebration, even if that occasion is a simple dinner party or a solo evening at home.
So chill the Champagne, cava or prosecco, then break out your bar tools and start mixing. Each of these eight fizzy drinks is an inspired sip worthy of a toast.
At Bacchus Bar in Portland, Ore., Andrew Call pours local Aviation American gin because its complex, herbaceous flavor plays off this drink’s tart lime and grapefruit. “Adding house-made pineapple simple syrup gives it a welcome hint of a day on the beach,” says Call. “[And] topping it off with dry sparkling wine and Peychaud’s bitters makes all the flavors come together and light up your tongue.”
“Sweet, herbaceous and acidic all at once, this is a great pre-dinner cocktail before a nice glass of white wine,” says 312 Chicago’s head bartender Jenn Knott of her cocktail. She experimented with using a syrup instead of a shrub, but the latter ended up keeping the drink fresh and tart. White balsamic vinegar, made in Italy from the trebbiano grape, is mixed with white wine vinegar and cooked at a low temperature to retain its clearish color.
“I enjoy using grapefruit in a shrub because it allows the brightness and flavor of the grapefruit to come through and cuts down on the fruit’s tartness,” says Nic Christiansen, the beverage director at Lola in Louisville, Ky. “Allowing the acid from the apple cider vinegar and the sugar to lift the grapefruit flavor [creates] a more complex grapefruit flavor.” Locally produced Copper & Kings Absinthe Superior lends the sip classic anise flavor, as well as floral and citrus notes.
Torrence O’Haire’s festive fizz at creative American restaurant The Gage in Chicago’s Millennium Park is a combination of two classics, the French 75 and New York Sour. “The two drinks meet in the middle as a Brandy Sour, topped with sparkling red wine,” says the beverage director and sommelier for Gage Hospitality Group. “The lambrusco gives the cocktail both bright, fresh sparkle ... and fruity richness.” Be sure to add the wine slowly so it creates an attractive layered effect.
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Patricia Grimm, the beverage director at Adele’s in Nashville, wanted to create a light, bright brunch cocktail that highlighted the elegant floral notes of crème de violette—known mainly for its use in the classic Aviation—but without the dull tinge the liqueur can lend to drinks. “When added to a clear spirit, crème de violette typically reads gray, which belies its vibrant taste,” she says. “The earthiness of lambrusco and gin botanicals works great with the violet floral notes.” Lemon gives it fragrance and bright acidity.
In Italian, the name of this effervescent elixir means “don’t worry about it.” One look at its easy build-in-the-glass recipe and low-ABV day-drinkability, and you can see why: The Italian sparkler from Lombardy was the right ticket for the base. “While being light and effervescent, lambrusco is still full of depth and character,” says Nathan Elliott, the lead bartender at Il Solito in Portland, Ore. “It also provides just enough sweetness to satisfy most palates without being overly sweet; it’s a great variant to the traditional sparkling white wine.”
Jamie Steinberg, the beverage director of Motel Morris in New York City, created this floral cocktail that deftly walks the line between sweet and tart. He combines Nikolaihof elderflower syrup with strawberries, lemon juice and rhubarb bitters, and the drink receives a fizzy kick thanks to sparkling rosé.
Beverage director Taha Ismail of Arroz in Washington, D.C., wanted to do a seasonal riff on a Pisco Sour that was clean and refreshing. Fresh mandarin and yuzu juices join for a citrus-y cordial that offsets Strega’s piney profile, while Peychaud’s bitters meld with the pisco’s floral notes. “This drink has enough complexity without being overwhelming and [is] very consumable on any patio,” he says.