Ahh, the holidays…chilly nights fireside with friends and family, amazing family recipes and traditions, and fancy Christmas parties galore…no wonder this time of year is magical for all. I absolutely love the holidays, but we all know that things start moving at a super sonic pace during this lovely (but sometimes hectic!) time of year. This year, I wanted to come up with three cocktails that are elegant and special enough for the spirit of the season, but also easy to whip up in a pinch when unexpected guests pop over for a little holiday cheer!
My solution? I came up with three easy champagne cocktails made simply of one or two ingredients that you can keep stocked prior to the busy season. Before things get going, buy a case of reasonable, good quality Champagne or Sparkling Wine (no need to get the super premium labels since you will be mixing the first two with liqueurs) and have chilled so you can easily access it when unexpected guests pop over to celebrate the season with you. Here are my three cocktails (and accompanying ingredients to keep stocked that will literally only require a quick top off or garnish to get you from “Merry Christmas” to “Cheers!” in 30 seconds flat…
3 EASY HOLIDAY CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS
1. CHAMPAGNE WITH ST-GERMAIN: The easiest, most elegant crowd pleaser I always have in my back pocket. Fill champagne flute or coupe 3/4 of the way and top with splash of St-Germain liqueur. This lovely French liqueur is made from subtly sweet Elderflowers, and is quite frankly my favorite topper to a good glass of bubbly. At culinary school, we were invited to a posh dinner party at our teacher and the founder of the school, Darina Allen’s home, and we were served this as we were welcomed for cocktails. It was so simple, yet incredibly elegant, and I will always have a bottle of this delightful liqueur on hand not only for convenient cocktails, but also as a reminder of this lovely night (the art deco bottle is perfect for styling a good bar cart too!). The best thing about this one is that it’s not too sweet, so guests of all kinds usually take to it quite well. Occasionally I garnish with flowering lavender (when in season) or a mild herb sprig, like Thyme.
2. THE CLASSIC KIR ROYALE: So in planning these cocktails, I wanted to look back to traditional champagne cocktails for inspiration. They are usually super simple, yet incredibly elegant – and of course, the French always seem to master that combo, so my mind went immediately to the classic Kir Royale. The clincher for me? The deep, berry red color is the perfect jewel-toned concoction for the holidays. This one is as easy as the St-Germain cocktail above – it’s simply Champagne or sparkling wine topped off with a little Creme de Cassis (again, keep a bottle on the bar for easy access – it’s also great to have for recipes!). Creme de Cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur that originated in the Burgundy region of France. It has a lovely, sweet taste reminiscent of blackberries, so feel free to float a blackberry garnish or use a rosemary sprig to skewer a few as I did below. It’s also traditional to serve with a twist of lemon peel, but the drink itself is fabulous alone if you lack garnish at all, so not to worry! For a true “Christmas Red” colored cocktail, add less Cassis to the bubbly.
3. BRUT ROSÉ WITH POMEGRANATE GARNISH: Now, I know what you’re thinking – Sparkling Rosé is not a winter wine…yes, you are correct; however, all good Sommeliers will tell you that the best policy is to drink what you like. I happen to like Rosé and find myself wanting it at different times throughout the year. Charleston is also unseasonably warm at Christmastime compared to other areas, so I’ll blame it on that little detail! Either way, I think the rosey color is festive for the season, especially when garnished with a little spoonful of pomegranate seeds, which are a in season at the holidays and look like perfect little red jewels floating in the pink bubbly. Serve alongside red and white wine to offer guests a selection, but know that this offering will definitely feel like Christmas with its ruby tones and fun bubbling red garnishes.
Have a good, simple cocktail you love for the holidays? Share in the comments below or send to me! I love seeing your easy holiday entertaining ideas (and who doesn’t need more cocktail recipes!?). “Cin! Cin!” to less hassle and more Christmas cheer, hostesses!