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Developing Champagne Cocktails

I Dipped My Toe into the Cocktail Waters and Came Out Bathed in Champagne

A glass of Champagne

As a wine journalist for many years, I have had the opportunity to become intimately acquainted with Champagne's greatest cuvees. But as my career evolved—I now work mainly as an author and authority on aphrodisiac foods—I found myself spending more time refining recipes than sipping Champagne.

Working on my first book, I finally figured out how to combine my craft with quenching my ever-present thirst for bubbly. I asked a friend to collaborate on an aphrodisiac Champagne cocktail for Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook.

Her original suggestion was to drop a few threads of saffron, (the ultra-expensive spice), into a glass and top with Perrier Jouët Fleur de Champagne. An incredibly decadent concept in theory, we had trouble in the execution because the saffron threads tended to ride to the top of the glass where they would often stick to the drinker's teeth.

Another friend, who had a great deal of experience with saffron, thought to toast the threads before dropping them into the glass. This way, the saffron tended to integrate more with the Champagne, turning the drink a rich, golden shade. But the threads still tended to weave between the teeth.

Next, I tried pulverizing the toasted saffron threads. Perfection! The saffron powder, sprinkled in the bottom of the glass immediately dissolved when the Champagne was poured. And what we discovered was that not only did the saffron turn Champagne a regal color while adding an air of indulgence to the drink, it gave the wine a robustness beyond its original structure, holding up when paired with even the heartiest of dishes.

From that experiment, I caught the fever and began playing with the flavors and body of Champagne. Some of my early discoveries include: Do use sweet flavors but do not overload. A kir royal is at its finest with a mere hint of cassis, not a quarter-glass full. Do add festive color, such as a few pomegranate seeds at the bottom of the glass. Unstrained raspberry pulp not only leaves seeds everywhere, they also bring a bitterness to the drink. To use berries, try macerating with a little lemon juice and sugar than press through a sieve and puree before adding to a glass of your favorite bubbly. And, of course, do not include ingredients that catch in teeth.

After dabbling in Champagne recipes for two years, I started creating aphrodisiac cocktails for vodka, cachaça and tequila clients. But it is Champagne cocktails that I always serve in my home. Although it may sound a little tedious, I love the hours of refinement it takes to get a cocktail right. What other occupation allows drinking on the job?

by Amy Reiley

Saffron Fleurtation

from Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook
1 bottle Perrier Jouet Fleur de Champagne*
20 saffron threads, toasted

*substitute any quality Brut Champagne

Crush 4 saffron threads in each of two Champagne flutes. Top with Champagne and toast to the art of flirtation. Drain and repeat.

Devil's Bellini

recipe by Amy Reiley

1/2 c peeled, ripe white peach slices
1/3 c thawed, frozen red raspberries
2 T Balsamic vinegar
4 oz cachaca
1/3 c sugar
1 bottle Prosecco or other sparkling wine

Slide your berries through a fine strainer to remove seeds. Macerate peaches and strained berries in Balsamic, cachaca and sugar for 1 hour. Puree in blender to silky smooth. Pour 1-2 oz of devilish puree into a Champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine.


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