The Champagne Martini

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I have seen recipes for champagne martinis that call for just vodka and sparkler. I have come across others (more than I would have guessed) that all swear by a spoonful of raspberry puree in the bottom of the glass, with some fizz and whatever else on top. And I have read that just bubbly and Cointreau is what constitutes a proper Champagne Martini -- if "proper" is even a descriptor we can properly use when discussing a cocktail that bears, at best, a second-cousin resemblance to a proper-proper martini-martini.

My new favorite acronym is MINO -- Martini in Name Only. It was, I will admit to you devout drinkers, a fact of life I had to swallow (straight, no chaser) when I agreed to author a cocktail book called The Big Book of Martinis for Moms. Clearly, not all 175+ recipes in the book are vodka- and or gin-based, for one thing. Believe you me, I did strive to make as many of the book's recipes fall in line with a classic martini's most hallowed guidelines. As it turns out, Mom does not live on vermouth alone.

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Anyway, I wasn't down with all of those other Champagne Martini variants referenced above. Just vodka and bubbly? Too stiff and fumey. With a spot of jam? I'm intrigued (and inclined to adopt a British-nanny affect), but sounds messy, so pish-posh, ol' chum, and fanks but no fanks! (Besides, I don't think moms need any more messes to clean up. For that matter, do any of us?) Cointreau and champagne? OK, but can't we do better than that?

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Here's better.

The Champagne Martini

3-4 ounces champagne

3/4 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur

2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach Bitters

Combine Cointreau, Luxardo, and Fee Brothers Peach Bitters in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir briskly for about a minute with a bar spoon. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with champagne.

Tasting Notes

Obvs, you can use either capital-C Champagne (du France) or little-c champagne (sparkling white wine) for this recipe, just whatever you have on hand.

For that matter, you can forego big-C Cointreau and just use little-t triple sec if that's what you've got.

Lastly, speaking of drink-it-if-you've-got-it, I find this is a great recipe for leftovers. Like when you need something to do with that opened bottle of bubbly, and who doesn't always have way too much triple sec on hand? (I swear my bottle of triple sec predates Will & Grace.) Leftovers -- they're not just for moms!

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The Breakers 75

Remember how I spent New Year's Eve pouring various champagne cocktails, including The World's Greatest Champagne Cocktail, because God forbid I let a single drop (of nastily cheap bubbles, mind you) go to waste? Well, I almost let many, many drops go to waste, as I've just now realized that I never blogged the Breakers 75.

I'm going to admit, I don't entirely "get" this cocktail. For example, I don't entirely get its name. The "75" is referencing the French 75, no? But "Breakers," does that mean... waves? Is this a cocktail for surfers? Was it invented at some cheesy, "nice" restaurant in the  80s? (For some reason, when I picture the word "Breakers," that's what I picture: A Reagan/Miami Vice-era notion of good taste and fine dining, spelled out in cursive neon. Probably bread plates that look like seashells, that sort of crap.)

Given, then, that this sauce is not awesomesauce, I encourage you all to put on your cocktail thinking caps and consider this recipe the basis of something more special-er. For example, I highly recommend using the finest Champagne (capital-C if you can) you've got, and/or the best gin. Me no think gin and champagne go so nice-nice together otherwise.

And if you wind up going too crazy on the experimentin', there's little that can't be fixed with a dash of bitters and a hit of sugar. (That goes for life-in-general, too, yo.)

The Breakers 75

(Can I admit I'm not 100% sure where this recipe came from, because it was New Year's EveI was drunkI was really drunk we referenced so many cocktail books that night in our quest to bring you all the world has to offer? Although my guess is that it was this book.)

Champagne, about 3 to 4 ounces

1 ounce gin

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pour gin and lemon juice into the bottom of a champagne flute. Top with your bubbles. Down the hatch.

Tasting Notes

In addition to using the best gin and capital-C Champagne you've got, I highly suggest shaking the lemon juice and gin together in an ice-filled shaker tin to get them nice and chilled before building your drink.

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The World's Greatest Champagne Cocktail

In case you haven't figured it out yet, this week is unofficially-officially Leftover Champagne Week at the blog. Is this a case of bad timing on my behalf? Surely some of you poured your New Year's Eve backwash down the drain days ago. But what about youse guys who overstocked for your year-end blowout, and now must stare down the doldrums of January while half a case of perfectly good bubbly makes eyes at you from the top of your fridge? This week's for you.

And I really shouldn't endeavor any sort of Champagne Week without a proper, i.e. World's Greatest, Champagne Cocktail. I'm talking about the classic here, the one you could technically argue ain't even a cocktail because the only booze in it is bubbly. A single alcoholic ingredient, not even a liquor one at that: That's two strikes in mine and many other books.

But we give this guy a pass because champagne cocktails -- nay, the Champagne Cocktail is just so delightful and lovely and fun. There's something so whimsical (in a good way; my husband hates that word) about fashioning a drink with honest-to-goodness sugar cubes. Oh, the presentation effect! The precious look of them doused in bitters! It's enough to make me want to go hand-write a letter with an inkwell-dipped quill, which I will then seal using the family crest. (Do you think they drank champagne cocktails in Downton Abbey?)

The World's Greatest Champagne Cocktail

Champagne -- a flute's worth of it, the best kind you've got

2 cubes of sugar

About 5 dashes Angostura Bitters

Plop the sugar cubes into a champagne flute. Douse with the bitters. Fill with preferably-uppercase-C Champagne.

Tasting Notes

As I try to make the case for in every "World's Greatest" cocktails, the better the base, the better the drink. Certainly the bitters and sugar cube here will bring out the best in highbrow bubbly -- but the other great thing about the champagne cocktail is that it can turn your ordinary, $9.97 bottle of sparking wine into a delicious drink just as well.

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