DRAGON RIDER CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL
Perhaps mythologically, but nonetheless romantically, history credits Dom Pérignon with inventing champagne. It was 1693, when mysterious rising bubbles caused the Benedictine monk to exclaim, “Brothers, come quickly! I’m drinking stars!” For centuries, champagne's effervescence has created a sense of celebration and excitement. Millions and millions of bottles are produced annually from grapes growing in a chalky soil 90 miles northeast of Paris and there is no better time in history to consider drinking champagne for no other reason than just because.
While the finesse and lightness characteristic of most champagne is lost when mixed into a cocktail, grower's champagne--artisanal wine made in the Champagne region of France and produced by the same estate that owns the vineyard from which the grapes come from--has distinctively dry "Brut" flavor characteristics that make them especially good for champagne cocktails. While making up only 5% of the champagne sold in the United States, vingneron champagne represents really good value and a phenomenal bubbly experience. The good news is that demand for grower's champagne is on the rise in America as people discover champagne does not have to be prohibitively expensive and reserved only for celebrations. Unlike the well-known champagne distributors such as Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon who blend grapes to maintain consistent taste, grower's champagne is bottled from grapes grown on a single estate and the taste can vary dramatically year to year. To boot, almost always brut with very little sugar dosage added to sweeten the bottle, grower's champagne is a delightful companion to nearly any food pairing.
Nota bene: Champagne and sparkling wine should be chilled to 42 to 45 degrees F. for 30 minutes before serving. For a mini-course on grower's champagne read WINE FOLLY'S "GETTING INTO GROWER CHAMPAGNE". Two great grower champagne producers easily procured in the U.S. are Laherte Freres and Crémant du Jura, both available at a fraction of the price of maison imported champagnes.
1. Pour the Aperol into the champagne glass.
2. Add the liqueur, juice, and bitters.
3. Tuck the blood orange garnish in the glass.
4. Top with champagne or sparkling wine and serve immediately.
1 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce St. Germain Liqueur
1 drop orange bitters
1 teaspoon blood orange juice
1/2 slice blood orange for garnish
3 to 4 ounces grower's brut champagne, or other dry sparkling wine