The Ups and Downs of Champagne

 Half-opened bottles of champagne are a joy and a curse. I am not afraid to say it. It all begins innocently enough. First some cocktail recipe sparks your interest, and the next thing you know you are mentally rearranging your refrigerator to accommodate a bottle of bubbly. For me, it was the Jaguar, a tiki drink created in Seattle in 1955. This drink stands out because it uses so many unusual ingredients and one of them is champagne. Now maybe you are thinking: Is she crazy? Tiki drinks usually include at least three ounces of rum (or other equally potent things), and combining that with a champagne top is madness. And you are right, it is madness. Glorious tasty madness. So, there I am in the middle of the wine/beer aisle at my local PCC, the teardrop bottle enclosed with its festive foil calling to me, and I swear I can hear the pop of the cork in the distance. But alas . . . they don't have any half bottles (or at least not in my price range) and all I need is a champagne top. Could I go to another store, hunt down a half-bottle of sparkly? Sure, but I won't. I leave the store with a 750 of champagne and a skip in my step, my mind full of tiki. All is good.

adapted Jaguar

1 ounce lime juice
2 ounces dark Jamaican rum
2 ounce champagne
1/4 ounce brandy
1/4 ounce orgeat syrup
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1 teaspoon sloe gin
1 teaspoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon creme de cacao
1 teaspoon port
1 teaspoon sweet vermouth

Pour all ingredients, except champagne, into a tall frosted glass packed with crushed ice. Stir to chill. Add champagne. Garnish elaborately in tiki manner. 

But then tiki night has passed. The tiki mugs have been returned to their place in the cabinet The ice crusher is stashed back on the shelf. But the champagne sits forlorn in the refrigerator door jammed in next to vermouths and syrups, a champagne saver strapped to its top and only four ounces missing. I feel guilty every time I need jam or butter, or even water, seeing it there steadily losing flavor, and, well, sparkle. Such a curse is the already opened bottle of champagne!

The race is on, can I use it before it gets flat and loses all flavor. Some people would just drink it. But not in our house. A open bottle of champagne holds endless amounts of possibility—we don't just stock bubbly for rainy days (though considering how many rainy days we do have, that would be wonderful). All week I plot, keeping my fingers crossed that I actually got that top on tight enough, that maybe there will still be some bubbles left. So many options: Morning Glory, French 75, Seelbach, Airmail, Old Cuban, Sazerac Royale. and that is just off the top of my head. 

With plans to go out on Friday, we will have to kill the bottle while we are home on Saturday night. The Seelbach has won out. But there is still half a bottle left after. The race begins again: reseal, refrigerate, cross those fingers. And then I came across this:

adapted Mexican 75

1 ounce tequila (reposado)
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar

Shake ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with 4 ounce of champagne and add a lime twist.

Notes on Ingredients: The original recipe calls for blanco tequila, I used Milagro reposado instead.

I had never had tequila with champagne before. So I commandeered Tracy's cocktail-making night; it seemed the reasonable thing to do.

The smell of agave and lime dominated the aroma. The first taste was dry and though there are four ounces of champagne the tequila's warm earthy spices were able to shine through. As the drink warmed up the lime juice became more apparent and added a nice brightness. The aging of the reposado brought certain caramel notes to the drink that worked really well to make the agave nectar shine. Using a blanco in this drink is like using a blanco in a margarita, it keeps the drink refreshing and light, perfect for summer. But with the addition of the reposado, and its fuller flavor, the drink became more robust and would stand up to even a colder night. The drink was a very nice, simple combination of sour and sweet, dry and herbal, but it will never replace a French 75, which is one of my favorite drinks. This would be a wonderful variation for a someone who doesn't like gin, or who alternatively is kind of wary of tequila. But all in all, it certainly took care of that champagne.