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Champagne cocktails to make for New Year's Eve

Champagne cocktail
Published Dec. 21, 2018

Champagne is a New Year's necessity. So if you want to impress you can just go for the big-ticket bubbly.(Armand de Brignac brut gold, anyone?) But another route is to buy the best you can afford and then glam it up into a Champagne cocktail. We asked some of Tampa Bay's mixology superstars for their best bets.

FRENCH 75

Dean Hurst has spent more than 30 years in the business, for many years as the director of spirits for the Bern's Steakhouse Group (which includes Bern's, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel) and more recently as the spirits program director for projects like CW's Gin Joint, the Peabody and Lucky Cricket, Andrew Zimmern's new restaurant in Minnesota. His passion these days is tiki drinks, but he was willing to part with his favorite bubbly concoction.

"I don't really have a Champagne drink that I love outside of the French 75, with gin or with Cognac (my personal favorite)," he said.

1 ounce VSOP Cognac (Park if you can find it)

½ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce simple syrup

Champagne

Shake first three ingredients with ice and strain into a Champagne flute.

Top with Champagne. Garnish with a thin lemon peel.

ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT COCKTAIL

Ro Patel started his career in the early 1990s at some of the hottest bars in London, shoring up in Tampa in 2008 to design the bar menu of Ciro's Speakeasy, which opened in 2010 and was among the area's first purveyors of craft cocktails. Since then he has started his own consulting company, designing the bar menus for Tampa Bay concepts such as the Getaway, Franklin Manor, Anise Global Gastrobar, Grille One Sixteen and others before presiding over his own space, the Collection Bar at the Hall on Franklin, the area's first food hall.

He had a couple of Champagne cocktail suggestions, one of which is a play on a bellini that uses Wild Turkey Longbranch, actor Matthew McConaughey's whiskey. It's an 8-year-old small-batch Kentucky bourbon refined with Texas mesquite and oak charcoals.

1 ounce peach puree

1 ounce Longbranch whiskey

4 ounces Brut Champagne

Pour peach puree into a chilled 7-ounce Champagne flute.

Roll puree around to coat half the glass. Add Longbranch whiskey and top with Brut Champagne.

To make your own peach puree, chop one white peach into small 1-inch pieces and muddle until pulplike. Add ½ ounce simple syrup or honey. Squeeze a wedge of lemon into the puree to preserve its color.

GNOMTORIOUS B.I.G.

Datz has built a reputation on audacious, inventive and sometimes downright goofy cocktails (but mind you, their bartenders have won some major competitions). Corporate beverage director Jon Griffiths had this seasonal and festive beverage that they serve in a copper gnome. Fresh out of gnome cups? Griffiths says you can substitute a copper mule mug on this one.

1 ½ ounces Absolut Elyx vodka

1 ounce St. George spiced pear liqueur

½ ounce lemon juice

2 ounces spiced apple cider

Champagne

Add all ingredients except Champagne to shaker tin with ice, shake, strain into copper gnome or copper mule mug and top with Champagne.

SOUTHERN 75

Datz's sister restaurant, Roux, takes its cocktails equally seriously but spins them in a let-the-good-times-roll New Orleans direction. Here is a spin on a French 75, this one with a deep Southern accent.

1 ounce Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka

¾ ounce peach puree (Roux uses a product called "Real")

½ ounce lemon juice

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Champagne

Add all ingredients except Champagne to shaker with ice.

Shake vigorously, strain into Champagne flute and top with Champagne.

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