A Simpler Thyme, courtesy of Afterward in Park City, Utah.
A Champagne toast is a universal symbol of celebration. Turn that simple raised glass into a cocktail, though, and you’ll really have something to be happy about. Spirits haven’t been too bright this year, to say the least, but to us that’s all the more reason to pop some bubbly and mix up a drink that’s a byword for seasonal enjoyment. We invited TSG editors across the country to ask top local chefs and mixologists for their favorite sparkling cocktails. Their effervescent concoctions will put plenty of fizz back in your happy hour—just in time for the holidays. Cheers!
A Simpler Thyme
“No matter the complications we have seen in 2020, we can all agree we’ve been dreaming of days that involve a little less. We can’t turn back the clock or predict the future but you can mix up a drink that will transport you to A Simple Thyme,” says Paige Williams, wine director and events coordinator at Afterword in Park City, Utah.
Yields 1 serving
- 1.5 ounces vodka
- 0.5 ounce Aperol
- 0.5 ounce lemon juice
- 1.0 ounce blood orange juice
- 0.5 ounce thyme syrup
- Sparkling brut rosé
To make the thyme syrup, combine 1 bunch of fresh thyme (leaves and stems) with 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup water. Bring mixture to a boil. Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before making cocktails. Add all ingredients except sparkling brut rosé to a cocktail shaker and shake. Pour over rocks in an old fashioned glass. Top with sparkling brut rosé.
“This is a great, lightly effervescent cocktail with seasonal ingredients that works well as an aperitif,” shares Watson Fitts, the bartender at Fearrington House in Pittsboro, North Carolina. “The hue is reminiscent of the holiday season, with the garnish adding that under-the-mistletoe vibe and its namesake translates to Father Christmas in Italian.”
Yields 1 serving
- 3/4 ounce Hennessey
- 1/4 ounce Chambord
- 1/3 ounce Cynar
- 2/3 ounce Verjus Rouge
- 1/16 ounce (2 dashes) Allspice Bitters
- 1 1/2 ounces brut Champagne
- Whiskey-reconstituted cranberries to garnish
- Rosemary end-cutting to garnish
Combine all liquid ingredients other than Champagne in a shaking tin and shake until cold. Double strain through fine sieve into a coupe glass. Top with champagne, and stir loosely to mix in glass. Garnish with a rosemary cutting between two soaked cranberries; serve.
Pomegranate Champagne Punch
“I love this cocktail because it’s super flavorful and a beautiful drink for the holidays. It’s a breeze to make the night before, so you don’t have to worry about mixing the day of,” shares Sophie Stich of Washington, D.C.’s Toastworthy. “With zesty lemon and sweet elderflower, it’s always a show stopper for gatherings. I’m a huge fan of the snowy rosemary. It’s an easy way to make the drink really stand out.”
Yields 12 servings
- 3/4 cups of pomegranate juice
- 3/4 cups of lemon
- 3/4 cups of elderflower liqueur
- 1.5 cups of vodka
- One 750 ml bottle of brut Champagne
- Fresh cranberries
- Fresh rosemary
- Powdered sugar
Make ahead by pouring the pomegranate juice, lemon juice, elderflower liqueur, and vodka in a pitcher with no ice. Refrigerate overnight or for at least a few hours before serving. To serve, pour 2 ounces of the mixture into a cocktail shaker. Strain over ice into a champagne coupe. Top off with brut Champagne. Add the fresh cranberries for garnish. Sprinkle powdered sugar over a sprig of rosemary for a snowy effect as the final garnish.
“The Idaho 75 is my favorite holiday cocktail because it looks the part of holiday cheer as well as tastes it,” says Hailey Minder, owner of 3100 Cellars in Boise, Idaho.“It brings some basic Idaho ingredients together (Idaho Bubbles, Idaho Gin, and Idaho Huckleberries) for a fun toaster all season long. The huckleberries taste similar to cranberries and the Bardenay gin has some lovely citrus and floral tones that really make this a bright drink for our long evenings of winter celebrating.”
Yields 1 serving
- 1 ounce Bardenay Dry Gin
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce muddled tart huckleberries
- 3+ ounces 3100 Cellars Whitewater Sparkling Wine
- Twist of lemon to garnish
Combine all ingredients but sparkling wine in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a sparkling wine flute or white wine glass to preserve the bubbles. Top with sparkling wine.