Champagne is the only alcoholic beverage that is inherently formal and fun. Simply put it in a flute, adding nothing, and it becomes a celebratory drink for those bestowed. It's partly the bubbles. It's more champagne's reputation as a special occasion beverage. A great travesty is visited on it when we pile other liquids in it to create a "cocktail." I'll concede that brunch warhorse, the Mimosa (champagne and orange juice), but Cognac? Rum? And most egregiously, stout (the Black Velvet)? � I do believe champagne can be relaxed, loosened up. To do so, I add something to it that doesn't mix in so much as mix up: sorbet. Little scoops frozen rock hard and added to the bubbly give it a subtle taste of summer and fruity lightness. You sip the champagne and when you have bottomed out, the sorbet has softened, sliding down your throat with the last drops of wine like the perfect amuse bouche.
How to make it
No recipe needed, simply scoop sorbet into (chilled if possible) flutes and add champagne.
Here are proportions so you know how much to buy. A standard 750-milliliter bottle of champagne yields six to eight servings depending on the size of your flute or wine glass. A pint of sorbet (sometimes labeled sorbetto) serves about the same amount depending on the scoop size and amount of scoops you put in the glass. I like the little ones; I can put several flavors (lemon, blood orange, raspberry, for example) in a glass to add more color. You can also line the sorbet containers up on the bar so guests can choose what they want.
Don't want to spring for French champagne? Prosecco and Cave, Italy and Spain's less expensive versions, are terrific. And for those not drinking alcohol, offer sparkling water and ginger ale.
To go with
You're doing something a bit different with your champagne. How about applying that free spirit to your hors d'oeuvres? Instead of using a toasted baguette slice for crostini, try a potato chip. You need a sturdy ridged one; I find the Kettle brand holds up well to toppings. Think about other combinations of toppings (tapenade and mascarpone cheese work as do cream cheese and smoked salmon), but nothing too wet or salty.