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Jun 24, 201510:11 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Cocktail Belles of the Bubble Ball

Credit brainloc, HAAP Media, 2005.

Try this noble experiment: enjoy a glass of wine that contains bubbles – Champagne, Cremant, Prosecco, Cava, or Sparkling – and not smile.

It can’t be done. There may be a few of you out there so humorless, without soul, that you do it all the time. But I can’t imagine any reader of this weekly diatribe being that person. So my betting money is that you can’t keep from smiling when enjoying a wine that tickles both the palate and the nose.

Maybe you are one of the few people on the planet that have not discovered this basic truth: wine with bubbles goes with every dining course, with every style of cuisine, at any time of day, and with everyone you know. No other beverage can make that broad of a statement.

If you say you do not like wine with bubbles, that only means that you have not had the correct one. What’s not to like? This style of wine comes at every level of sugar; is made from a wide variety of grapes; brings lots of acid (structure) to the table; and when measured against other style of still wines is low in alcohol. Of course, there is still alcohol involved so let’s stay reasonable about this topic.

What really can be fun about wine with bubbles is its versatility and the many diverse characteristics it possesses based simply on its origin. Depending on the wine’s point of creation, you are going to end up with something quite a bit different than the sparkling wines from another place. On the hierarchy, Champagne is the reigning monarch. These wines from the eponymous region to the north and east of Paris set the world standard. While the song properly notes “there is nothing like a dame,” just as true is that there is nothing like Champagne.  

Other regions produce their own versions such as Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Cremant from regions of France (that are not in the defined-by-law Champagne region) and sparkling wines from all over the world, notably California. Each brings their own style to the festivities.

What can happen with sparkling wine, including Champagne, is that mixing the liquid with other spirits, juices, botanicals and fruit delivers something wonderful and very different from where the drink was just a moment ago.

Champagne or Sparkling Wine cocktails are an ideal hot weather treat. All are made to be tasty, delivering different aromas and tastes, and the challenge is not to drink them so fast that four or five are gone before you even realize the GF (Guzzle Factor) has set in.

The fact that they are simple to make is a real bonus. Unlike many cocktails made with neutral, clear spirits (don’t make me say it), sparkling wine carries its own character, adding not just flavors, sugars and taste, but even supplying texture.  A lot of the labor that goes into making cocktails regarding balance, sour and sweet, can be furnished by sparkling wine, which is just one ingredient.

It is no wonder that one of the oldest cocktails in the world uses Champagne as not just a base spirit, but also gives the drink its name.



Reprinted from Epicurious, 2008


1 sugar cube

Angostura bitters


Lemon or orange twist, for garnish


  • Soak the sugar cube in Angostura bitters and drop into a champagne flute. Top with a luxury Champagne or a Sparkling Wine. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist.


Does it really get much simpler than that? Three ingredients, two steps, and ready to enjoy. A classic.  But don’t answer the question too fast. Simplicity is the name of the game for Sparkling Wine cocktails, and here are more.  



As featured in AllRecipes.com. 2003


3/4 cup Champagne or Sparkling Wine

¼ cup Orange Juice


  • Mix ingredients together with a bit of ice. Discard ice remnants.



Suggested at thebar.com


1 oz. Tanqueray® London Dry Gin or Gin of Choice

1.25  oz. Champagne

.75  oz. fresh lemon juice

2  tsp superfine sugar

1  slice orange


  • In a shaker half filled with ice, add Dry Gin, superfine sugar and lemon juice.
  • Shake well and pour into glass.
  • Top with Champagne and stir well.
  • Garnish with orange slice.


There is a preference in some drinkers for Cognac instead of Gin. Give it a try. And among local lovers of the French 75, more Champagne is in order than noted in the original recipe. I have placed my preferences in this recipe. Your tastes and research will guide you for your version.

Naturally, there is always the New Orleans way of getting the heart of the cocktail matter.

All recipes below are from Kent Westmoreland, mixologist and story teller.

The Cocktail Bar, The Windsor Court Hotel, 2015.






Cruzan Rum



Lime juice



Simple syrup











  • Muddle mint, lime juice, bitters, and simple syrup
  • Add Rum
  • Shake
  • Double strain into Champagne glass
  • Top with Champagne
  • Garnish with mint












Grand  Marnier






Lime Juice



Angostura Bitters





  • Shake all ingredients (except Champagne).
  •  Pour into champagne glass and top with Champagne
  •  Garnish with orange peel





2 ounces Bombay Sapphire East

1 ounce Canton Ginger Liqueur

½ ounce Lemon Juice

½ ounce Simple Syrup

3 ounces Sparking Wine


  • Shake all ingredients (except sparkling wine)
  • Double strain into coupe
  • Top with sparkling wine
  • Garnish with lemon twist.



Enjoying good hot weather refreshments does not have to mean you take on the burden of construction. Let Sparkling Wine do the heavy lifting. Kick back. Relax.






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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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