June 13, 2012
So much to celebrate this week!
Yesterday was my dear friend Megan’s birthday—she is the baby of our college group (I’m the oldest), so we marked her twenty-ninth year with drinks and an Italian dinner. Saturday is my best friend Rebecca’s wedding, in which Megan and I will be bridesmaids and joyful attendants. There will be a gorgeous lace dress, a ceremony in a gazebo, dinner, drinks, dancing, and little mini key lime pies and turtle cheesecakes made by yours truly. I have a pretty blue dress with pockets and I cannot wait to celebrate my friend and the wonderful couple that she and her soon-to-be-husband make.
Megan, Rebecca, and I have been friends since our freshman year of college, which adds up to over a decade now. That means I’ve spent a third of my life in friendship with these two, and I could not be more grateful. They have seen me at my worst and best, have cheered me through the highs, loved me fiercely through the lows, given me advice, made me laugh, gotten me safely into bed after crazy nights, made me think, inspired me, and listened without judgment even when it seemed impossible for anyone to do so. (The fact that anyone could still love me after the jackass I was at nineteen never ceases to amaze me.)
It’s nothing short of extraordinary—to know where each other has been, to appreciate the person each of us has become, to show up and be family for one another, to inside joke and tease and swell with pride over and love love love the stuffing out of each other—I know I hit the jackpot with these two. And that is worth celebrating, not just this week but again and again and again.
CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS OF ALL SORTS
I decided to make a handful of different cocktails on a Friday afternoon, and Jill and I endured the hardship of taste-testing them all for you. I focused on easy champagne cocktails that called for extra ingredients that were inexpensive, likely to already be part of your bar, or both. There are many more serious drink-makers out there, with far-better stocked bars than I.
But for summer and/or entertaining, a simple champagne cocktail can’t be beat—book club brunch, backyard happy hour with friends, celebratory dinner, etc. To see other drinks I’m itching to try, check out my Pinterest “for the bar” board. What cocktails are you stirring up this summer?
Classic Champagne Cocktail
This one is Jill’s favorite—a little something special, but not too sweet, and it yields a lovely color. Also, it couldn’t be simpler.
1 sugar cube (equivalent to 1 tsp.)
In the bottom of a Champagne flute, douse the sugar in bitters. After a few minutes, top with Champagne. Enjoy.
Blueberry-Basil Champagne Cocktail
The original idea called for muddling a few fresh blueberries and a few fresh basil leaves in the bottle of a Champagne glass before topping; that was nice, but didn’t yield a ton of flavor.
If I were going to make these again, I’d do this—make a basil simple syrup*, then puree some fresh blueberries with a little basil simple syrup, then pour 1-2 oz. of that mixture into a Champagne flute, then top with Champagne.
Should you try this, do report back.
**To make, combine one cup of water with one cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then remove from heat and toss in a handful of fresh basil leaves. Let the syrup cool, then remove the basil (the longer you leave it in, the stronger basil flavor the syrup will have.)
Lemon-Mint Champagne Cocktail
This idea from Fresh 365 has become a repeat performer in our house, simply because the container of Haagen Dazs lemon sorbet has not yet been used up, and half of our backyard patio has been taken over by mint. This drink is more like a champagne slushy, at once very playful and very grownup.
Spring of fresh mint plus a few extra leaves
1 oz. gin or vodka
1 cup lemon sorbet
Champagne or sparkling wine, to top
Muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of a wide glass. Pour in the liquor, then add the lemon sorbet and give it a little stir. Fill the glass with Champagne and garnish with the spring of mint.
According to Saveur, this cocktail is so named because it was the first drink that astronauts Buzz Aldrin & Neil Armstrong had upon returning to Earth; I love stories like that.
This cocktails is kind of like a more nuanced mimosa; I think you could cheat a little in order to make a pitcher of them by mixing and refrigerating the grapefruit juice & orange liqueur ahead of time. When ready to serve, pour into individual glasses, add a few drops of rose water to each, and top with Champagne.
The rose water really does add a little something to this cocktail—you can easily find an inexpensive bottle of rose water at any Indian or Middle Eastern grocery store.
1 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz. orange liqueur
2-3 drops rose water
Champagne or other sparkling wine, to top
Shake the grapefruit juice, orange liqueur, and rosewater in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain into champagne flute and top with bubbles.
Rosemary Gin Fizz
We don’t have pictures of these because I made them for Rebecca’s bachelorette weekend lunch and they disappeared very quickly! A great drink for a crowd: refreshing & went well with our salad-and-homemade-pizza lunch. (recipe via A Cup of Jo)
Make the rosemary simple syrup ahead of time, and be sure to add extra slices of lemon and springs of fresh rosemary to the pitcher when serving.
1 cup rosemary simple syrup*
1 cup gin (you could also use vodka)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 bottle of Champagne or Prosecco
Combine ingredients in a punch bowl or pitcher—stir very briefly, then serve.
*To make, combine one cup of water with one cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then remove from heat and toss in a few fresh rosemary springs. Let the syrup cool, then remove the rosemary (the longer you leave it in, the stronger rosemary flavor the syrup will have.)