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Dipsology: Beyond the Basics — Some Champagne Options for Your New Year's Revelry

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Even if you do not like “bubbly,” these champagne cocktail options should make the drinking de rigueur palatable.

As the mandated calendar flip takes place tonight, whether you are out at a party, at an event, or sedately celebrating at home, there is a likelihood that champagne is going to be involved. Most are familiar but few are well-versed in the famed sipper from France, but no need to be intimidated. You don’t need to be scared off by the mystique — nor the price tag — to enjoy the famed fluid.

Unless you are a dedicated viticulturist, there is no real requirement to splurge more than needed on the bottles. You can find potable options, and domestic is likely the way to go. Champagne is a designation reserved for those labels directly from the region in France, so options like sparkling wine, and others, are your tip-off that while not officially champagne, they are right in line with what you are looking for. Next is to know what you are looking for.

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Mostly you will face a range between dry, and sweet, with varying levels of fruitiness. If you or the guests prefer drier versions, then you will look for Brut, while sweeter options run in the Asti labels. The Italian Prosecco has become quite popular as well, in recent years, as an affordable option, one that straddles the dry-sweet line with a notable fruit character.

So, if you are leery or unsure about drinking a straight serving when the corks are popping, then champagne cocktails are a viable option. Nab some nice but inexpensive stemware, and consider being adventurous, as you look for some options to choose from.

“Tinsel Towne Cocktail.” Credit: Brad Slager, used with permission

Tinsel Towne

This is a go-to I have made for Academy Awards parties, and it surprises everyone. While the cinnamon cordial sounds completely off, dry champagne is a perfect compliment and the flavor mixes astoundingly well. I have always experienced this patterned reaction when making these — revulsion, then a cautious sampling, then a request for their third glass.

  • 1/2 Shot Goldschlager liqueur
  • Fill glass with champagne

Be sure to shake the bottle of the schnapps before pouring, in order to get gold flakes into the serving; they will then percolate in the glass from the bubbles.

 

Kir Royale

This classic can be modified to suit tastes. If you want more flavor, you can upset the French and use the Italian or American versions of the sparkling fluid. The black currant liqueur can stand out with sweeter choices of bubbly.

  • 1 Shot Creme de Cassis
  • Fill with choice of Champagne

This can be garnished with fruit, such as blackberries, raspberries, or a lemon twist — or a combination.

 

 

Sapphire Eye

These look great, taste great, and will please guests. Be ready to make many of them, as they flow down easily.

  • 1 shot Blue Curacao
  • 2 oz. lemonade
  • Champagne (Asti, Prosecco)

Rim the glass with sugar, pour the chilled ingredients in order. Garnish with half a lemon wheel.

“Sapphire Eye Cocktail.” Credit: Brad Slager, used with permission

Mimosa

This is a classic Sunday brunch choice that can appeal to guests familiar with the mix. At night, try this variation to boost the revelry, and then always remember the leftover bottles can be used to make more for breakfast tomorrow.

  • 1 shot Triple Sec
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice
  • Fill with champagne

 

Bellini

This is an altered version of an original Italian mixture, so a prosecco is the go-to choice here.

  • 1 Shot Peach Schnapps
  • 2 oz. Peach juice, or nectar
  • Fill with champagne

As an option, equal parts orange juice and peach can be used.

 

The Orinoco

Here is a fruity version that will cover most of the champagne flavor but use the bubbles to great effect.

  • Cubed Watermelon
  • 1/2 Shot Melon Liqueur
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice
  • Fill with Asti, or Prosecco

Place a number of watermelon cubes in the freezer for at least two hours. Crush one fresh watermelon piece in the glass; add melon liqueur and OJ; stir, and then add champagne. Float a frozen watermelon cube.