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From Crémant to Cava to…Champagne. Sparkling Wines to Ring in the New Year!

Can you believe it? We are just days away from the year coming to a close and a fresh new one beginning. Such a great time to create a clean slate! Begin anew! And mix things up a little! I thought this New Year’s post should follow suit!

While I love, love, LOVE creating sparkling cocktails for a New Year’s celebration, and I’ve made a few in the past for this here blog, we all know that when the clock strikes midnight, most people turn to the bubbly stuff all on its own. This year I decided to focus on those bottles that will be the most bang for your buck – those that look festive and taste special, but won’t break the bank, especially if you want to get multiple bottles for you and your guests.

My picks range from the number one selling Prosecco in Italy priced around $15, to an award-winning Blanc de Blanc Champagne priced under $50, to a Spanish Cava made in the traditional Champagne style that you won’t believe is under $15.

The sparkling wine category has grown steadily year after year, especially in the U.S. almost primarily due to the Prosecco trend. It has nearly eclipsed Champagne in recent years. Clever marketing and the lower price point has been key, of course. And while there has been a glut of questionable quality Proseccos that have flooded the market, there are still many brands that have been able to rival Champagne in taste.

Out of the five featured sparklers featured here, I’ve included two Proseccos. They are both from the same producer – Valdo, crafted in the heart of Prosecco–Valdobbiadene, are both made from 100% Glera grapes, and are priced similarly – around $15. But each one has a slightly different appeal. The Valdo Brut Prosecco DOC is the number one Prosecco consumed in Italy and it is pretty clear why. It goes down incredibly easy; It is slightly drier and has a touch higher alcohol content than the Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco DOCG – the fruitier and toastier of the two. The Oro Puro is aged a bit longer in the bottle and delivers a more complex profile than its modest price might suggest. The fat, elegant shape of the bottle also gives it a little more gravitas than the Brut. Spring for both and serve the Brut with food and then graduate to the Oro Puro to toast afterwards.

If you want to go French but would like to explore something other than traditional Champagne, a good quality Crémant may be just what you’re looking for. It is made using a second fermentation method like Champagne, but is not from the Champagne region. There is more freedom in terms of what grapes to use for Crémant, but they still adhere to fairly strict guidelines during production. The “Côté Mas” Crémant de Limoux Brut St. Hilaire from Languedoc in southwest France is the kind of bottle that Champagne producers don’t want you to know about. In fact, the Limoux appellation has been producing sparkling wines even longer than the Champagne region, having produced the first sparkling wine on record. The Côté Mas has silkier and more delicate bubbles than a traditional Champagne. Citrus, honey and stone fruit come through reflecting the dominant grapes of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. This delicious sparkler is just under $15 a bottle and your guests will never be the wiser.

Spanish Cava has long been known as the poor man’s Champagne substitute. (Prosecco has since taken that title but they somehow have made it sexier!) While Cava production has increased over the years, it still does not get the love it deserves. This is by far the most bang for your buck that you’re going to get. The Paul Cheneau line, produced in the Penedès region, takes a lot of influence from the French style and is made in a classic Champagne method but using Spanish grape varietals. The result is a lively and fresh, almost floral quality. The lengthy age comes through in a silky mouthfeel and a nice round finish. At about $14 a bottle this may be one of the best deals in the bunch.

Of course a list of sparklers to ring in the new year would not be complete without mentioning a Champers. Almost all Champagnes are made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, but Blanc de Blancs are made entirely from white grapes. It may not be traditional exactly, but it happens to be my Champagne of choice!

Because Blanc de Blanc is made with only white grapes, it tends to be a little more austere and crisp and have a little more minerality than most other Champagnes. But André Jacquart Champagne Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Brut Experience goes in a different direction. It is lush and rich, heavier than you’d think when just using 100% Chardonnay grapes. The minerality is still there and it even has a touch of green apple but the depth of flavor and complexity in this Blanc de Blanc belies its single grape. Consistently rated in the top percentage of wines in the world, the $50 per bottle price tag seems like a steal.

Whatever you pick to toast the new year, I hope you get your hands on some if not all of these bottles at some point. With these prices, you can do your own taste test and see which ones are your faves. Because there is always an excuse to pop open a bottle of bubbly!

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TRULY, a New Boozy Sparkling Water?!

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As Memorial Day weekend quickly approaches and summer starts to tease, I can’t help but get a little giddy about one of my most favorite times of year; That’s right, it’s Spritz Season! While I’m partial to a well made spritz any time of year, there’s nearly nothing as refreshing during the warmer months than this low alcohol, bittersweet sparkler. However, I maaaay have tried something recently that rivals my beloved spritz (just don’t tell my Italian side!) in the light, refreshing, low alcohol and sparkling department – TRULY, Spiked & Sparking, a sparkling water that just hit shelves less than two months ago, has just a hint of fruit (that tastes like real actual fruit!), and is then SPIKED for good measure! By adding a small amount of alcohol made from cane sugar (5% ABV), TRULY takes sparkling water and buzzes it up just enough…

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The past couple of years have introduced us to the hard seltzer segment – an entirely new alcohol niche we didn’t even know we needed! This trend is building on the major growth and popularity of carbonated bottled water in the U.S., which has apparently doubled since 2012, and the overall interest in lower calorie alternatives to wine, beer and cocktails. This is NOT just a flavored malt beverage ala the dreaded Zima (still sold in Japan!) from the 90s; In fact, TRULY is gluten free – for those that are avoiding the stuff. It may only be 100 calories and they avoid using artificial flavors and colors but, most importantly, the product actually tastes good.

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Of course, women are the target audience for this new segment, but I’m just relieved that the TRULY packaging is as clean and tasteful as the product. There isn’t a lady in a dress on the label and it’s not covered in pink rhinestones (no offense to pink rhinestones, I’m down with bling, just not when I’m being “marketed” to as a lady consumer.) They’ve rolled out with three flavors: Grapefruit & Pomelo, Colima Lime and Pomegranate. Each one has just a subtle hint of the flavors featured on their labels. My favorite was the Colima Lime, tasting like a burst of effervescence with a squeeze of fresh lime.

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I tested all three flavors out with friends a few weekends back, and I’m happy to report that the dudes were equally as into it as the ladies. It’s nice to lighten things up every now and then, and TRULY is a nice refreshing alternative to a beer or higher alcohol sparkling wine.

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So, as you all prepare for the long weekend and get ready to hunker down for the next couple of days, look out for this new spiked and sparkling sipper to add to your provisions. TRULY is available in about 20 major markets throughout the U.S. at the moment, but they’re already seeing growth. To find out where you can buy it, visit their site.

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TRULY Spiked & Sparkling products provided for this post. As usual, all opinions are my own.

Getting Into the Oscars Spirit with The Sparkling Limoncello Drop

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Oh, hello darlings, I didn’t see you there…

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Now that I officially live in La La Land, I’m pretttttty Hollywood. I mean, I lounge around all day in my velvet robe and sip on fresh citrus and bubbly cocktails without a care in the world.

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My meals are mainly variations of avocado toast and the occasional fish taco…if I’m eating at all! And palm trees, crazy beautiful sunsets and 70+ degree weather in February is like…”whatevs” now. It’s pretty zen out here, you guys.

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LOL, JK, I’m still an impatient New Yorker who eats! (that stuff about the avocado toast is pretty true, actually. I’m ODing on the stuff).

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And the palm trees, warm days and sunsets are blowing my mind on the regular. You mean, it’s like this every day? ERRR DAY?! I’m trying not to flood my Instagram feed with just that!

But, moving is harrrrd. And moving across the country, getting a bronchial infection and then trying to set up shop in a foreign, albeit very sunshine-y place, is NOT conducive to updating a cocktail blog. You might have noticed that I’ve been absent here since first announcing the move because…LIFE. But, now that I’m nearly a month in, I may not have gone full Hollywood, but I am starting to get acclimated, and I’m loving so much of it. Including the fresh citrus everywhere!

One thing I have noticed since I’ve been out here is how you can really feel the awards season in this town. The excitement building for the Academy Awards, the grandaddy of them all, is palpable here. (Mainly because the city shuts off major thoroughfares through town about a week before the show even airs. LA traffic, gah!) Since the Oscars are this Sunday and many of you are either hosting or going to viewing parties, I thought you might like to have a festive (and delicious) cocktail in your arsenal to serve for the night.

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Inspired by one of the easiest and most popular of all of my recipes, The Limoncello Drop Cocktail, this sparkling version is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

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In fact, I even tested this sparkling version out on a group of dinner guests a couple of weekends back (with Sobieski Vodka), and I can safely proclaim, it was a hit!

Even if your favorites don’t win this year (or weren’t even nominated), if you make this sparkling ray of sunshine in a glass, you’ll have a winner of a cocktail at least!

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The Sparkling Limoncello Drop

Ingredients:
3/4 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Limoncello
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2-1 oz Sparkling Wine

Garnish:
lemon peel
superfine sugar and lemon wedge to rim glass

To sugar the rim of your cocktail glass, take a freshly cut lemon wedge and slice the middle. Slip the wedge over the rim of the glass where you’ve cut the lemon, and sweep around the entire top of the glass until it is well coated. Gently dip the glass upside down into a saucer filled with sugar until just the tip of the glass is coated.

Directions:
Shake all ingredients except sparkling wine over ice until the outside tin is frosted over. Strain into a well chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass, leaving room for the sparkling. Top with sparkling wine. Add a lemon twist.

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All photos of Prairie Rose taken by the very talented Shannon Carpenter of THIS APERTURE. A Spring Session Discount is currently running on the site. Book by March 15th and receive 25% off your print order.

Pineapple Ginger Sparkler #WhatsInYourValdo Contest

Do this booze blogger a solid and vote here, please!

Since moving to Los Angeles from New York City, my relationship to the seasons has become…complicated. I still crave all of the things you would during the colder months  – cozy fires inside, hot cider, crunchy leaves underfoot. But because this place is so head trippy with its perfectly warm sunshine-filled days EVERY DAY, you often forget what time of the year it really is. The upside is that I get to indulge in cozy fires outside all year-long, when it’s chilly at night, a casual poncho can still do the trick, and most importantly, sparkling wine can be sipped ALL year round.

Well, I suppose it did when I lived on the east coast too. But I just feel like I drink it so much more out here.

Valdo Prosecco has easily become one of my go-to bottles of bubbly. It’s priced well, extremely effervescent and dry with a toasty finish. There’s a reason it’s the number one selling Prosecco sold in Italy. It’s classic and tastes much more expensive than it is.

When wine importer, Esprit Du Vin announced that they were having a cocktail contest on Instagram called #WhatsInYourValdo, with the winner getting a trip for two to Venice, I couldn’t help but throw my hat in the ring!

I’m still getting used to the lack of extreme season changes, but I wanted this drink to be inspired by the slightly cooler months in Los Angeles! While pineapple and tequila feel like vacation, which is very much LA, ginger always makes me think of fall and winter. Topping this mixture with a crisp, dry Prosecco like Valdo keeps the sweetness at bay and makes it extra festive! The contest ends today, but if you haven’t already voted for your favorite booze blogger 😉 here’s your chance!

Pineapple Ginger Sparkler
1 ounce Pineapple Juice
1 ounce Blanco Tequila
1/2 ounce Ginger Liqueur
3 ounces Valdo Prosecco.

Shake juice, tequila and liqueur over ice until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Top with bubbly!

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Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur & a Vesper Variation

Despite how it may appear on social media, the freelance life – writing about booze and such – is not all glamour and day drinking and sleeping until noon…

As much as I’d LOVE to loll around in my velvet robe and sip on freshly squeezed OJ until I can muster the energy to face the world, a good amount of time involves being stuck inside, sitting slack-jawed in front of a hot laptop in the yoga pants I threw on because they were the closest thing to the bed. And then realizing by 2pm it might be a good idea to brush my teeth. It’s not pretty. And since moving to California and freelancing full-time, I’m still working out how to do it.

Taking a break or carving out time for yourself when you work for yourself is a constant challenge. But sometimes that’s JUST what you need to recharge, re-energize and recalibrate in order to shake up that sad routine! Sometimes you just need to get away from it all and change your environment for a few days.

My lovely friend, Georgette – journalist, spirits writer, published author…and fellow freelance captive – had the most delightful plan to head out-of-town for a few days to do just that. Cue…girls’ trip to Palm Springs!

And what is a girls’ trip away with two booze nerds without a signature cocktail? This was not a detox vacay, okaaaay. I brought along one of my new favorite discoveries, an exquisite new gin liqueur called Pomp & Whimsy that launched just this past January right here in downtown Los Angeles.

It is made by infusing classically distilled gin with a liqueur made up of 16 different botanicals, some of which include juniper, coriander, angelica, grapefruit, as well as bitter orange, cucumber, lychee, raspberry, lavender and jasmine pearls. The resulting spirit is a fruity and floral perfume of flavors, a sort of lower alcohol hybrid of London dry gin and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur. It’s wonderful as an aperitif with sparkling wine or seltzer, or, as we found out while indulging in our poolside villa, in a Pomp & Whimsy inspired Vesper.

The Vesper, introduced in 1953 in the very first James Bond book, Casino Royale, is traditionally made with gin, vodka and the dry vermouth, Lillet Blanc. By using the Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur in the place of a dry gin, the overall cocktail was slightly sweeter and more floral than a classic Vesper. The slight bitterness from the vermouth and higher alcohol and dryness from the vodka made for a perfectly balanced cocktail in the end. This version had a bit of a lychee martini quality to it. And I wasn’t mad at that.

We fell in love with this drink as well as the restored 1930s historic hotel we stayed at in Palm Springs, La Serena Villas. So, it was only appropriate to name it after this enchanting spot in the heart of downtown, flanked by the San Jacinto Mountains and towering palms trees.

Here’s to spontaneous girls’ trips and girly drinks that even James Bond would love!

La Serena Vesper
2 oz Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with edible flowers.

Four Amorous Cocktails For Valentine’s Day

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A few weeks back I was asked to design a couple of signature cocktails for two intimate dinners hosted by the innovative wedding registry site Zola.com in the luxurious Parachute Hotel in Venice Beach.

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Because the theme of these dinners was inspired by LOOOOOVE, and with names like Honeymoon in Havana and La La Love, I thought these cocktails would be perfect to share right before Valentine’s Day to get y’alll in the mood…

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For our first dinner with wedding industry insiders, we made a vodka based gimlet with hibiscus syrup and elderflower liqueur and a ginger-y take on a mojito.

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For the Garden Party Gimlet, we used Our/Los Angeles Vodka as its base and made a hibiscus syrup to give it an especially vibrant fuchsia hue. The addition of St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur added warm floral notes, and in keeping with the flowery theme, we topped this all off with edible blossoms.

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Garden Party Gimlet
2 oz Our/Los Angeles Vodka
1 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Hibiscus Syrup*
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Garnish: Assorted Edible Flowers

Shake all ingredients until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with edible flowers.

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The Honeymoon in Havana cocktail was inspired by the ever popular mojito.

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Because we designed these cocktails with a wedding in mind, we wanted to elevate the traditional mojito recipe by swapping out sugar as the sweetener with BBAF fave Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur and using sparkling wine in place of club soda.

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You’ll need a light, clean rum like Don Q Cristal for the base of this drink and fresh lime and mint are key!

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Honeymoon in Havana
2 oz Don Q Cristal Rum
1 oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3 Mint Leaves
1/2 oz Sparkling Wine

In a small Collins glass muddle lime juice and 2 mint leaves. Add ice, rum, ginger liqueur and sparkling wine. Stir with straw and garnish with mint.

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For the second intimate Zola dinner, we created cocktails for recently engaged bloggers and social media influencers.

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These were both simple but delicious cocktails with some added flourishes like edible glitter and orchid garnishes.

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The Stars in the Garden, while fairly simple – with pink grapefruit juice, St-Germain and sparkling wine, was an instant hit.

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Besides going down a little too easy, it literally sparkled! Edible glitter was added to make the drink shimmer, and floating edible stars were placed ever so delicately on top with tweezers!

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Stars in the Garden
2 oz Pink Grapefruit Juice
1 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
3 oz Sparkling Wine
Garnish: Edible Glitter, Edible Stars

In an ice-filled shaker add 1/2 tsp edible glitter, pink grapefruit juice and St-Germain. Shake until well chilled and strain into a coupe glass. Top off with sparkling wine and place about 2 dozen tiny edible stars on top.

The La La Love is probably the most Valentines-y cocktail of the bunch. With this drink we brought back Our/Los Angeles Vodka, hibiscus syrup and edible flowers.

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We used fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice (plucked from a friend’s tree just the day before!) and topped this all off with club soda. This is like a refreshing boozy hibiscus lemonade. Also perfect for a summer wedding!

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But it’s the orchid garnish that really sexes this drink right up. When looking for edible flowers for this event, I was surprised by how many grocery stores actually carry an assortment of edible blossoms in their produce department. Apparently, these can also be very good in salad greens!

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La La Love

La La Love
2 oz Our/Los Angeles Vodka
1/2 oz Hibiscus Syrup*
1/2 oz Meyer Lemon Juice
Club Soda
Garnish: Edible Orchid

In an ice-filled shaker add vodka, syrup and lemon juice and shake until chilled. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and top with soda. Stir with straw and garnish with orchid.

* Hibiscus Syrup
1 cup of sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers
Tbsp lime zest
Pinch of salt to taste

Combine sugar, water and hibiscus over med-high heat in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring until all sugar is dissolved. With the heat off, let steep for another 20 minutes. Add lime zest and pinch of salt. Double strain through wire mesh and let cool. Will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

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Unmarked photos by Katie Gibbs Photo, all others by Bit by a Fox.

Barefoot Bubbly’s Fruit in a Flute Cocktails & Event!

A couple weekends back I was part of a phantasmagoric, technicolor dream deep in the Hills of Beverly…

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There were synchronized swimmers bedecked in the most adorable caps and suits…

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…photogenic poofs of cotton candy,

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brightly colored flower crowns,

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and allll of the beautiful people.

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So, what was the purpose of all of this California whimsy and multicolored wizardry?! It was a boozy celebration, of course! Barefoot Wine & Bubbly just re-launched their fruit infused sparkling wines in four different flavors – Berry, Peach, Orange and Pineapple. And yours truly was asked to create some fun cocktails to highlight each one!

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As many of you know, I LOVE using sparkling wine to complement a cocktail. It tends to lighten up a spirit forward cocktail, dries out a sweet one, and in warmer months makes an especially refreshing tipple. It’s hard to argue, nearly everything is better with bubbles! But since these sparklers have a fruity essence and a sweetness to them from the residual sugar left over in the winemaking process, I was able to use them in a slightly different way.

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In each of the cocktails I created, I didn’t have to use any simple syrup or additional sweetener because each fruit infused wine had its own level of sweetness that worked well with various spirits and citrus. The Berry Bombshell turned out to be one of the most popular that day. Vodka, ginger, lemon and Berry Bubbly!

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Berry Bombshell
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz lemon juice
2 oz Berry Barefoot Bubbly
garnish: three berries on a bamboo skewer

Shake vodka, ginger liqueur and lemon juice over ice. Strain into champagne coupe and top with Berry Barefoot Bubbly. Garnish with berry skewer.

The Pretty as a Peach Ingenue was the simplest of all the cocktails. I found the Peach Bubbly was perfect with good ol’ bourbon, and gave it just a touch of southern charm! The lemon juice added just the right amount of acid and made the peach flavor really shine.

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Pretty as a Peach Ingenue
1.5 oz Bourbon
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
topped with Peach Barefoot Bubbly

Shake bourbon and lemon juice over ice. Strain into flute glass. Top with Peach Barefoot Bubbly. Garnish with peach wedge.

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The Orange Spritz Starlet was inspired by a traditional Italian spritz cocktail. Light, refreshing and with a touch of bittersweet Aperol, this makes a great before dinner drink.

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This was also the cocktail that I made for Barefoot Bubbly’s Facebook Live segment with YouTube personality and all around fun lady, Mary Elizabeth. You can still watch it here!

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Orange Spritz Starlet
2 oz Orange Barefoot Bubbly
1 oz Aperol (Orange bitter Italian liqueur)
splash seltzer
garnish: orange peel

Build all ingredients in an ice-filled wine glass. Garnish with orange peel.

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The Pineapple Femme Fatale was my personal favorite and will be perfect heading into fall. It had the most complexity with tequila, Cynar Italian liqueur, lime juice and Pineapple Bubbly. I was surprised by HOW MUCH people loved this one, thinking it might be a little unusual for people’s taste buds. But the combined flavors just really worked!

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Pineapple Femme Fatale
2 oz Tequila
1 oz Cynar (Italian bitter liqueur)
.75 oz lime juice
3 oz Pineapple Barefoot Bubbly
garnish: pineapple wedge

Shake tequila, Cynar and lime juice over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and top with 2-3 oz Pineapple Barefoot Bubbly. Garnish with pineapple wedge.

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The #FruitInaFlute event was SO much fun and a perfect cap to the summer. But in lieu of attending your own fruit-infused bubbly bacchanalia, you too can recreate the feeling in a glass! Make these hollywood inspired cocktails for you and your friends and you’ll feel as glamorous as these mermaid ladies right here. Guaranteed!

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photos courtesy of Barefoot Wine & Bubbly

It’s Fall! Who’s Ready for Halloween?!

And just like that, it’s FALL, y’all! While I may be grieving summer just a smidge (did it go by faster than usual this year or am I just too busy to notice seasons anymore??), I do LOVE this time of year in the Northeast. Clothes get pretty cable knit-y, the early evening light through the trees gets very romantical, and everything gets super cozy around these parts. And one of the best things about this season? Halloween! As I mentioned a few months back, Fresh Direct, the local online grocer that delivers fresh and prepared food to your door, has made the game-changing move to include booze in their inventory. And they’ve been busy bees since then. They’ve since added some incredible mixers and bitters to their line-up. To celebrate some of these Bit by a Fox faves getting picked up by our fave online grocer, I created some Halloween inspired cocktails just for them! But they can be just for you too. Check it out!

Spiced Cider Margarita
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Spiced Cider Margarita
2 ounces Cimarron Blanco tequila
2 ounces apple cider
1 bottle of Be Mixed Margarita
1/2-ounce ginger liqueur
Dash ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Apple Wedge
Star Anise

Shake all ingredients over ice until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Garnish with apple wedge and star anise.

The Owl’s Rock & Rye Brewski
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The Owl’s Rock & Rye Brewski
3-4 ounces pale ale or lager beer
2 ounces Classic Owl’s Brew
1 1/2 ounces Hotchstadter’s Slow & Low Rock & Rye
3/4-ounce lemon juice

Stir well with long spoon or straw. Serve in an ice-filled pint glass.

The Hella Spookler
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The Hella Spookler
1 1/2 ounces Industry Standard Vodka
2 ounces pomegranate juice
Sparkling wine or prosecco
Pomegranate seeds
Sugar cube
Citrus Hella Bitters

Place a sugar cube at the bottom of a flute glass and soak it with 4-5 dashes of bitters. Pour in the pomegranate juice and vodka and top with sparkling wine. Drop in 5-6 pomegranate seeds for garnish.

Rose de Noël

I’m dreaming of a….pink Christmas.

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Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

The Rose de Noël is a take on one of my favorite festive cocktails, the French 75: Vodka replaces the gin, pink peppercorn syrup takes the place of simple syrup or a sugar cube, and a sparkling rosé is used instead of reg ol’ bubbly. And, a dusting of sugar and crushed pink peppercorns on the rim of the champagne flute, takes this drink up a few flavor-filled notches. You’ll be dreaming of a pink Christmas too!

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Vodka is normally not my go-to spirit, but I’ve always said I’m an equal opportunist in more ways than one! It’s such a versatile spirit, there is no wonder why it is still so wildly popular. When I do events, I always include a vodka cocktail. The Holiday Highball will never not be one of the most popular drinks at a holiday party. During a recent, intimate gathering hosted by All’Onda Restaurant and the good folks behind Snow Leopard Vodka, I experienced, firsthand, just how versatile this spirit can be, especially when it is of quality. We had a delicious milk punch that night, as well as an Italian-style cocktail with bitter liqueur and citrus. It was a great way to demonstrate Snow Leopard Vodka’s adaptability in very different cocktails, and a perfect introduction for many of us to this new product.

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Aside from delivering an award-winning product, the first luxury vodka made with Spelt grain, Snow Leopard Vodka also donates part of their proceeds to saving endangered Snow Leopards!

With less than 3,500 snow leopards estimated to be remaining in the wild it is our mission to help save this critically endangered species from extinction and to help improve the livelihoods of the poor herder families who share their home range.

15% of all our profits, and monies raised by our fundraising activities, are given directly to snow leopard conservation projects through the Snow Leopard Trust.

Our goal is to sell 150,000 cases of Snow Leopard vodka annually, generating enough revenue and awareness to safeguard the Snow Leopard’s future.

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Le Grand Courtâge Brut Rosé, a fairly new sparkling wine made in Burgundy with a blend of Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, and Gamay, works well in the Rose de Noël cocktail. Acidic and dry, fruity and floral, with distinct strawberry flavors on the nose and palate. And, at $22 a bottle, it won’t break the bank when you are feeling festive!

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

A note about the elegant bar tools, tray, shaker and coasters featured in this post. They are all from the Harrison Collection from Pottery Barn. Aren’t they the shiniest things you’ve ever seen? The entire line is based on the style of French champagne buckets, and, ooh la la, they absolutely glow! These are not only show pieces that you’ll want hanging out on the top of your bar or displayed alongside pretty glassware and elegant bottles on a credenza, they are fully functional AND radiant. My favorite combo.

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Try the Rose de Noël for the holidays and into the new year! For the super easy pink peppercorn syrup recipe, you can go to this previous post.

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Rose de Noël
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz pink peppercorn syrup
sparkling rosé
Garnish: pink peppercorn syrup, crushed pink peppercorns and sugar blend

To garnish the glass, dip the rim of a flute glass in a little bit of the pink peppercorn syrup and then the pink peppercorn/sugar mixture. Build the first three ingredients in the glass. Top it all off with sparkling rosé.

Welcome to Hibiscus Town!

hibiscus cocktail syrupA few weeks back I made a hibiscus syrup for a Hibiscus Pisco Sour cocktail I created to feature the delightful Capurro Pisco. And because my Italian side is dominant when it comes to portion size, I made enough syrup to sweeten up a small village. I’ve been living in hibiscus town ever since. It’s a tarty, magenta colored dream. Come along with me, you guys. I’ll show you around!

flowersAs many folks in subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world know, hibiscus flowers are not just lovely to look at, when they are dried, they can be a delicious addition to all kinds of recipes. But they are most commonly used to brew a refreshing tea served both hot and cold and known by different names throughout the world:  “Sour Tea” in Iran, “Agua de Jamaica” in Latin America, “Sorrel” throughout the Caribbean and “Karkadé” in Egypt and Sudan. This bright, tart, and tangy tea has been enjoyed for centuries, is said to have been the preferred beverage of the pharaohs, and is commonly used for a variety of health benefits, most notably to lower blood pressure and support upper respiratory and heart health. These pretty, little dried flowers can also be steeped in sugar and water to produce the most gorgeous looking syrup, perfect for all of those spring cocktails that you’ve been wanting to whip up! Tea and spice shops often carry dried hibiscus flowers, but if you are having trouble finding it, you can always go online!

Hibiscus Cocktail Syrup
1 cup of sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers
Tbsp lime zest
Pinch of salt to taste

Combine sugar, water and hibiscus over med-high heat in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring until all sugar is dissolved. With the heat off, let steep for another 20 minutes. Add lime zest and pinch of salt. Double strain through wire mesh and let cool. Will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

You can substitute most simple syrups with this ruby-hued delight to liven up your springtime cocktails. In fact, just last week, while visiting sunny Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of mixing up a few batches of hibiscus French 75s for some foxy Angelenos. They were a huge hit!

hibiscus cocktails

hibiscus french 75.jpgHibiscus French 75
1.5 oz dry gin
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz hibiscus syrup
sparkling wine

Build the first three ingredients in the glass. Then top it all off with bubbly.

In a pinch, you can add a spot of this syrup to sparkling wine on its own for some extra color and zip! And you can call it the Hibiscus Royale. You’re welcome!

And because I didn’t include a recipe for the Hibiscus Pisco Sour a few weeks back, here it is!

Hibiscus Pisco Sour - Bit By a Fox Blog2 oz Capurro Premium Pisco
1 oz lime juice
1 oz hibiscus syrup
1 egg white
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

 

 


Dry shake – shake first four ingredients without ice first to emulsify egg white. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into coupe glass and top with bitters.

Welcome to hibiscus town! You may never want to leave. Now, tell me what you end up doing with this tarted up syrup while you’re here!

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