Recently (speaking here of just weeks ago, as opposed to minutes ago) here on the Spiked Punch blog, I had a drink called Far More Red, featuring Trentodoc sparkling wine, or wine crafted particularly finely within a particular spot within the Trentino region, if I have everything correctly. The drink was tasty (I say, without hopefully overly-tooting-my-own-horn), and I hope you try it. But today, just days before (well, nearly a week before as the calendar tells us), the bubbliest night of the year (New Year’s Eve, natch), and maybe then, too, I’m having sparkling wine in a non-cocktail-form. That’s right, straight up! But, I’m sticking the a Trentodoc sparkler, so if you haven’t read the Far More Red recipe, then do, cause it has more Trentodoc info, though here I’m having a different wine (that showed in the mail, also, probably from Santa) than there. Today, it’s: Monfort Riserva Brut. Made in the same classical method, sure, but here we have a grape combo of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Nero, grown in vineyards that lie between 400 and 600 meters above sea level on hills where lie the towns of Meano, Vigo Meano, Cortesano, Gazzadina, and other spots I need to visit. What’s it all mean? A full frizzante, a delicate but flavorsome wine, a mix of floral, strawberry, pear, Honeycrisp apples, and an echo of fresh pastry (well, that’s my take), a sparkling wine ideal for pre-dinner sipping, but also, to me, one that’s ideal for sipping with that special someone as one year ticks away into another. Try it next week and see! Also, happy holidays!
You know, 2020 hasn’t been overly-packed with good days. There have been some, I’m sure and I’m hoping, for everyone, some big-ish good days, and some small-ish good days, even within it all. I had one recently when some bubbly showed up here, which made the day more, well, bubbly. It was also bubby from Italy (you know I love Italy, right?), specifically Trentodoc sparkling wine – Trentodoc being from the Trentino region, which is in the far north of Italy, a mountain-alp-y region, one which also has some Mediterranean-ness on the lower slopes. I’ll admit that’s not the Italian area I know best, but after tasting the sparkling wine from there, I need to know more! Made in the Meted Classico, or classic method, Trentodoc sparklers are also made from picked-by-hands Trentino grapes. Sounds yummy, right? But the proof is in the bottle, as the saying goes, and the one I’m popping off now is Maso Martis Extra Brut Rose.
Starting with its pale pink-y coloring, and enticing effervescence, it’s a wine you’ll want to drink as you pour – which is what you want, right? The taste (pino nero grapes, if you’re interested) has a berry-centric-ness, raspberries, strawberries, and then some currants, with a few delicate herbal notes, too, and a creamy nature ideal for a sunny day, a date night around the appetizer course, or, really, almost anytime. It’s also a swell base for cocktails. Well, you wouldn’t think I wouldn’t try it in a cocktail, right? I do so love bubble mixes, and with a flavorsome rose like this, I had to see how it’d play with others. Starting with another delicious number (and by some crazy occurrence also showed on the porch), but from closer to US home: Clear Creek Pear brandy. Made with Bartlett pears grown in OR (where Clear Creek is), it has a phenomenal pear nature, from the small to the lingering pear echoes, while still maintaining a warming brandy undercurrent. Then, I traveled back to Italy (to help the wine feel at home), with bitter and beautiful classic Campari – which not only adds layers of taste, but a rich redness, which is further underlined by our last ingredient, homemade grenadine. Altogether, what a drink! Refreshing but bursting with delights, and one the showcases and perfectly utilizes the wine and brandy. Dive in.
Far More Red
1 ounce Clear Creek Pear brandy
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce homemade grenadine (see grenadine recipe here, in the Note section)
3-1/2 ounces Maso Martis Extra Brut Rose sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Campari, and grenadine. Shake it.
2. Strain the mix from Step 1 into a Champagne flute or comparable glass. Top with the bubbly. Stir carefully to combine. Enjoy.
The third of our Cocktail Talks from the Trollope collection Early Short Stories (be sure to catch up on Part I and Part II, so as not to cause Trollope any sadness in the great library beyond) takes place in Rome, amongst a group of writerly and artistically and wannna-be ex-pats, and includes a little, oh, confused affection let’s say, and some bubbly, and some ruins, and Trollope’s eye into human foibles and drive, and ability to picture the 1800’s scene perfectly. Oh, before you pour the below though, don’t miss the array of past Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talk posts, which are oodles of fun, too.
She did not come among us on the occasion of this banquet, possibly because we had no tables there to turn in preparation for her presence; but, had she done so, she could not have been more eloquent of things of the other world than was Mrs. Talboys. I have said that Mrs. Talboys’ eye never glanced more brightly after a glass of Champagne, but I am inclined to think that on this occasion it may have done so. O’Brien enacted Ganymede, and was, perhaps, more liberal than other latter-day Ganymedes, to whose services Mrs. Talboys had been accustomed. Let it not, however, be suspected by any one that she exceeded the limits of a discreet joyousness. By no means! The generous wine penetrated, perhaps, to some inner cells of her heart, and brought forth thoughts in sparkling words, which otherwise might have remained concealed; but there was nothing in what she thought or spoke calculated to give umbrage either to an anchorite or to a vestal. A word or two she said or sung about the flowing bowl, and once she called for ; but beyond this her converse was chiefly of the rights of man and the weakness of women; of the iron ages that were past, and of the golden time that was to come.
— Anthony Trollope, “Mrs. General Talboys”
Whoa, summer is already deep into its summerness, and I feel I haven’t had nearly enough bubbly sparkly shimmery (while still cooling) drinks yet. It goes so fast! Could be that with all that’s happening in the world, having a celebratory effervescent mix seems, oh, off a bit? But that’d be silly, cause there is still so much to celebrate, every day, if I can be a little starry-eyed. Maybe I’m just lazy (far more likely)? Or maybe I haven’t had the right mixing option?
Luckily, at least for the latter open-ended (potentially rhetorical) question, a nice selection of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s new line of wine in single-serve aluminum bottles recently showed up in the mail (see, that’s something worth celebrating), and the selection included the “Bubbly” white wine variety (or varietal, if you will, hahaha). All of the four different options have screw-top caps for those that don’t finish in one go – but at 250 ml, I can’t see that happening for you! – lovely artsy decoratives (I made that word up!), and come in a 2-pack. The non-Bubbly choices include a crisp, citrus-y Pinot Grigio and a summer-y and strawberry-and-currant-y Rosé that I’ve tasted, and a Something Sweet white wine blend I’m excited to taste.
But back to Bubbly! It’s made from a bountiful blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Muscat Canelli, and Gruner Veltliner, and delivers a nice apple core flavor, with a little spice, a hint of summer, a dry enough nature, and a clean inviting bubbly-ness. Well worth having chilled all on its own under the shining sun (though I suppose some might be too much in the wine snob category to sip something from an aluminum container – let’s pity them, shall we?), Bubbly also is convivial enough to serve as a solid base for a classic Champagne Cocktail or other sparkling-based cocktail. And the 250 ml size makes it ideal for making two drinks, which is what you’ll want to do so your paramour, bestie, spouse, sanitized neighbor, or other personality doesn’t feel left out. It’s what I did! With that very-legendary and mentioned-above Champagne Cocktail. Side-non-Bubbly-note: I suggest you choose Scrappy’s Orange bitters for your bitters here. Because it has a rich, herbal, bitter-y flavor that goes perfectly (so well that I just ran out of my bottle. That’s the opposite of an occasion worth celebrating).
Champagne Cocktail (using the recipe from Champagne Cocktails: 50 Cork-Popping Concoctions and Scintillating Sparklers, of course!)
1 sugar cube
3 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Add your sugar cube to a flute in any manner you see fit. Dash the 3 dashes orange bitters over it. Let it settle in for a minute.
2. Fill the flute almost to the top with Bubbly. Garnish with the lemon twist.
I’ve never had a Cocktail Talk from Dan J. Marlowe before – welcome to the site, Mr. Marlowe! A fairly well-known writer of mid-century hardboiled crime fiction (and other things, here and there), Mr. Marlowe had two sort-of series, one with a guy named Drake (I’ve never read any of these) and one with a guy named Johnny Killain – The Fatal Frails stars the latter, and this is my first with him – and then a bunch of books without an on-going lead. My favorite book of his falls in the latter group, though The Fatal Frails with Mr. Killain (a sort-of rough-and-tumble type who is both quite a brawler and quite a lady magnet) was pretty fun, so maybe I’ll try another. The fun thing about Mr. Marlowe outside the books is that he actually hung out with a bank robber, and a murderer, and co-wrote some stories with the former, so lived the life a bit. And, he wrote the below Cocktail Talk, which may be the only French Seventy-five mention I’ve seen in a pulp – with a bonus, throwing itself into one side of a discussion mostly won by the other side these days, meaning Cognac vs. gin in said drink. Nice that it’s harder to say the drink is “much-neglected” these days, too!
His glance that had difficulty in focusing moved over to Johnny speculatively. “Although I don’t know how you knew. I was – disturbed, last evening. Upset, if you like. I am given to moods. I have – treatment for them. Early in the evening I repaired to a little place I know where the bartender is an artist in the preparation of that much-neglected drink, the French Seventy-five.” He smiled at Johnny, not quite vacuously despite the clouded eyes. “You’re familiar with the drink? Champagne over a Cognac base? Terrific morale builder. I had – several, after which I decided a spot of visiting was in order.”
–Dan J. Marlowe, The Fatal Frails
A little more Maigret never hurt anyone, right – heck, Maigret is seen as a cure-all in many countries, so more is actually beneficial. It feels like that to me every time I read a Maigret yarn I haven’t read at least (and luckily, I still have a ways to goes, as Mr. Simenon was very prolific). I picked up the latest, for me, in a Florence bookstore, bella-ly enough, and in it Maigret has to enter the world of the super-rich after a murder in Parisan luxury hotel the George V. Said murder happening after two folks had a bit of a do, with numerous sippers, as detailed below.
“Not at this time of night, Madame la Comtesse, but I’ll get in touch with the nurse…”
A little over an hour before, he had brought up to that very suite a bottle of Champagne, a bottle of whiskey, some soda water, and a bucket of ice. The bottles and glasses were still in the sitting room, except for one Champagne glass that had been overturned on the bedside table.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Millionaires
Seattle has loads (most in the world, in my opinion, admittedly biased) of fantastic bartenders, some shaking more recently, and some who have shaken for years, and helped develop not only our cocktail culture, but the world’s. One of those who fall into that elevated category is jolly Jay Kuehner, who has bartended in a number of spots, but who is perhaps most known for his groundbreaking work at the gone-but-not-forgotten Sambar, and who is now (among other things) making delicious drinks at The Cloud Room. One of those is called the Xavi (a Spanish-inspired spritz), and I was lucky enough to write a bit about it, and Jay, for the smashing Seattle magazine. So, go read about the Xavi spritz made by Jay Kuehner.
Beyond the fact that this is a tasty drink – double bitters, bourbon, bubbly, Cointreau – I love the story of the Seelbach. It was once thought an uncovered treasure found in some ancient texts, and brought out of the mists of time for the drinkers of the future. But, turns out, the whole story was made up. Cocktails should have histories like this, sometimes, cause drinking should be fun (also, to read the whole story in more detailed, check it out on Liquor.com) and sometimes made up stories are fun, too. Heck, it tricked me, but I still believe it’s fun, and like drinking the Seelbach, too. Try it, and I’m guessing you will, as well.
1 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
7 dashes Angostura bitters
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Pour the bourbon, Cointreau, and the two bitters into a flute glass. Stir briefly.
2. Fill the flute almost to the top with the chilled Champagne or sparkling wine. Stir again, but don’t get nutty about it. Garnish with the orange twist.