What champagne works for cocktails?
Last year for a party I did different champagne cocktails and the liquor store owner convinced me to buy a cheaper champagne than I would have since he said the dryness doesn't work in mixing. I did so but I've wondered since - what champagne works best in a cocktail? Anybody have any experience/opinion to share? I'm thinking I'll do more champagne cocktails soon!
It doesn't make sense to use a premium champagne for cocktails since subtle nuances will be lost to whatever you are mixing in. But there is no reason why a dry champagne wouldn't be preferable...it really depends on what you are making. Kir Royale? French 75? And whether you like sweet cocktails vs dry. Since the champagne is a big part of most of these drinks, you dont want to choose one that is bad on its own...one that is acceptable on its own will probably do. Since Champagne (as in from France) costs a lot more than sparklings from many other places, you might do well with a dry prosecco from Italy, cava from Spain, Cremant de Bourgogne from France, or a decent American "champagne".
For real Champagne I love Nicolas Feuillatte on its own or in cocktails since it is yeasty and dry.
A great Champagne cocktail we made for New Year's eve was the "French 77":
1 oz St Germain elderflower liquer
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
fill flute with Champagne
I'd go with Spanish cava, they are the best bang for the buck. The quality is as good as French champagne or cremant and usually better than Italian prosecco, but at around $8-14 a bottle
Freixenet is not generally considered to be of superior quality -- at least in the US. There are other brands out there which are held in higher regard.
That said, it isn't *bad* per se, but remember that -- especially here in the US -- the growth in Cava sales (led, by the way, by Freixenet) were based upon price. Originally they were not much more than André or Cook's, and of much better quality. At that price point, the "odd" taste could be ignored. I say "odd," because the grapes used in making most Cavas are not used in the US and, thus, the taste is not familiar to most Americans.
I have no experience in cocktails from sparkling wine but I have made some tasty kirs and the key there is the Creme de Cassis and not the dry white wine. As long as it was balanced and dry, you can use box wine to make a good kir if you have good Creme de Cassis. I suspect that may be true with cocktails from sparkling wine.
Looks like Spanish cava and prosecco are the way to go. Thanks! I'm looking to do a bellini-styled cocktails made with different homemade sorbets. Any labels you can suggest, outside Freixenet? I'm looking to spend around $10 per bottle because I have alcoholic cousins/guests over, so I'll have to buy quite a bit. If it can be consumed alone, that would also be appreciated.