Sugar, bitters and bubbly are must-haves for any holiday cocktail party.
Champagne cocktails became popular during Prohibition, when flappers were desperate to make the available bathtub bubbly taste better. And it worked! Turns out the traditional recipe—a sugar cube soaked in bitters, plunked in the bottom of a flute and covered in bubbly—is nearly fool-proof. Not to mention a great way to make inexpensive sparkling wine taste a lot more than merely inexpensive.
Today, a new generation of hostesses are discovering that not only are Champagne cocktails good, they have snob appeal and are thrifty too—a half dozen $6 or $7 bottles of Spanish Cava, a jar of bitters and a box of sugar cubes is enough to supply a whole cocktail party. If you want to try your hand at the new Champagne cocktails this year, here are five bitters that would make any Prohibition-era flapper dance on the nearest piano.
Dale DeGroff's Pimento Bitters
Utterly traditional, in the baking-spice tradition, use for Champagne cocktails that unlock the great holiday fragrances of molasses and orange peel. Use enough bitters to get the sugar cube good and wet, but not so much that there’s a shot of bitters in the glass.
Give a sugar cube a good soak with the new cranberry bitters from Fee Brothers, that American institution, operating since 1864, and then float a couple of fresh cranberries or raspberries in the glass.
Angostura Orange Bitters
So pretty, so citrusy—garnish with a fresh orange segment or a bit of lemon zest for extra eye-appeal.
Who says you can’t have Asian fusion cutting-edge cocktails in your den? Goes well with sushi or Thai menus, naturally.
If you’re looking for a hipster Brooklyn cocktail, here’s the real-deal straight outta Williamsburg—the citrus one is particularly appealing, with a profound orange perfume.