By Michelle Locke | 2013-1-24 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
SOMETHING new is bubbling up in the world of cocktails as canny mixologists skip the soda and turn to sparkling wine as their new go-to mixer.
The practice stems from the added care being given to cocktail ingredients in general. After all, it hardly makes sense to drown the top-shelf hard stuff in something cheap and sugary.
"It's not the best thing to be putting club soda or any type of soda in a cocktail," points out Chad Furuta of Del Frisco's Grille in New York.
Furuta traces the emergence of sparkling-wine-as-mixer to the popularity of prosecco, the slightly sweet Italian fizz that pairs well with liquors.
"It definitely brought a new aspect to the table and gave bartenders like myself a new outlet to bring out the natural flavors in a cocktail, as well as the celebratory factor."
He recommends using lighter-tasting spirits when using sparkling wine, and also keeping an eye on the overall alcohol level since you don't want to create a booze bomb.
For his signature ginger snap cocktail, Furuta mixes prosecco with Domaine de Canton, a ginger liqueur that's less than 60-proof (compared to the 80-proof of most spirits), using a mix of three ounces prosecco, one ounce liqueur and one ounce fresh sour mix, which he makes with equal parts fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice and one and a half parts simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar melts and then cooled).
The liqueur and sour mix is shaken with ice and strained into a chilled martini glass that's had the rim rubbed with a lemon wedge, then dipped in a bowl filled with a mix of cinnamon and sugar. Top it off with the prosecco and lemon garnish and you have a light but zesty drink.
One obvious point that comes up with a sparkling wine mixer: Should you use the good stuff?
Sure, says Eileen Crane, director of winemaking at Domaine Carneros, the Napa Valley producer known for its premium sparklers.
Just mix those drinks with a light hand. If you use something good you don't want to overwhelm it, and if you use something bad - "What's the point?" she asks.
And if you're concerned about what happens if you open a bottle of bubbly and then don't use it all, don't be, says Crane.
Sparkling wine stoppers are cheap, readily available in kitchen stores, and do a great job of keeping in the fizz, she says.
Given that there are about five glasses of wine in a bottle, you could come home and have a sparkling wine drink at day's end for a week. "What a nice thing to look forward to when you come home," says Crane.