Offering guests fabulous bubbly toasts that won’t break their bank
A bottle of high-end bubbles parked tableside signifies high stylin’ during the holiday season. Not only is Champagne a celebration unto itself, but popping those baller vintages is a great revenue stream that can put year-end beverage sales well above forecast. Due to circumstances that range from guest budget concerns to a general desire to consume less alcohol, however, your bar staff should always find innovative ways to ensure guests still have that perfect toast.
New York’s Bâtard offers spritzers that complement the overall dining experience, such as the “Winter Winter Spritz,” made with cardamaro, Wild Moon chai spice liqueur, pear, ginger, tiki bitters and sparkling wine. “They are very popular with guests due to lower alcohol content, delicious seasonal ingredients and an affordable price point,” says Bâtard bartender Kelly O’Connor.
When building a new sparkler, choosing the right wine is not only based on taste, but also cost effectiveness.
“Bâtard’s wine program mainly focuses on the wine region of Burgundy, so we use a Crémant de Bourgogne as our go-to in these aperitif-style cocktails,” continues O’Connor. “It’s a delicious, approachable and affordable wine that is light, fresh, crisp and mixes well with other ingredients while still maintaining a bubbly presence.”
What else goes into these festive libations is up to the creator. Josh Fossitt, who was behind the programs of Chicago’s Bad Hunter and New York City’s NoMad and is co-owner of cocktail catering company Hospitality 201, looks for spirits and liqueurs providing something fresh.
“Pineau des Charentes is nice to use,” he explains. “We also use La Troussepinette, another wine-based fortified spirit, with an apple-y flavor. Use anything that doesn’t overpower the drink but adds structure and a little bitterness.”
Presentation is key to creating a holiday libation and goes well beyond flutes and coupes. At Bad Hunter, glassware was found that could hold the liquor base with crushed ice and a 375-milliliter bottle of cava or prosecco, upside down. At NoMad, the famous Cocktail Explosions are served in large-format vessels with a spigot, containing almost a gallon of liquid over crushed ice with garnishes for groups of eight to 10.
“We would add a bottle of sparkling rosé to the spirit and make it as delicious as we possibly could, garnishing with strawberries, beautiful cleaned mint, caramelized half-moons of pineapple with rind and dehydrated lemon or lime wheels—the more you use the better,” says Fossitt.