Good sparkling wine is called for at any celebration and serving a glass of bubbly makes a celebration out of any occasion, especially Valentine’s Day. But we’ve all become accustomed to champagne (lower case “c”) in a can, a phenom which lowered the cachet of the wine considerably. In a COVID economy, few of us can afford the really, really good stuff. (There are good mid-range options—Proseccos, cavas, etc.) There are lots of things you can do to make an inexpensive sparkling wine more special. But my favorite Champagne cocktail is the French 75, the Soixante-Quinze, as the French call it. The drink, a decadent mix of Champagne and gin is said to have a kick like the gun it’s named after, considered the first modern artillery piece. Like so many cocktails, it can be traced back to Harry’s Bar, the Stork Club in New York City. Want more provenance? It’s mentioned in Casablanca. Here’s how to make it.

Shake 2 oz. London dry gin, a pinch of sugar, 1.2 oz. lemon juice over ice. Pour into a glass and top with champagne. Garnish with a twist.

Let’s be honest: If it’s late in the evening, just put a slug of cold gin into your champagne. Excellent for heartache, heartbreak or lovemaking.

And consider Ernest Hemingway’s perfectly disastrous Death in the Afternoon, again, depending on the occasion.

“Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”

You can expect the anise flavor of the absinthe to overpower the bubbles and, if you follow Hemingway’s instructions, you can expect the drink to overpower you.


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