Cocktail, Wine

The first drink of Christmas: Champagne

“Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content and sufficient champagne”

Dorothy Parker

Like no other product, Champagne epitomises a collective celebration. Weddings, success and life’s little highlights, the bubbly amalgamation of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier is seen by many as the perfect accompaniment to good old times. What happens however, if you’re lucky enough to have a glut? There are certainly many out there who would believe that there is no such thing.

Regardless, here are a few options to get you underway. These will work just as well, and in some cases greatly improve the product if you’ve got Methode Traditionelle or something else that bubbles.


Perhaps the greatest aspect of the now quasi-religious holiday is that drinking becomes socially acceptable or even expected before the traditional 11 o’clock start point. Hitting the heavier stuff might not be such a grand idea, especially if you’re entertaining an older crew. Cut back the booze with some fruity goodness and get the day started right.

Mimosas & Bellinis

Mimosas mix bubbles and juice together. At the most traditional, use orange juice. I’m always astonished by the number of people who will mix a fifty dollar bottle of bubbles with a two dollar tetrapak of OJ. Show your guests a little bit of love and squeeze the juice fresh. The results will be better than you’ve ever imagined.

1/2 glass Fresh OJ, top with Champagne. For something a little brighter combine 10mls Grand Marnier with 20mls Fresh OJ.

Bellinis call for a puree of fruit. The Italian who came up with the drink used fresh white peaches, if you’d like to do the same, be aware that if you try and make the puree ahead of time it will oxidise and turn a funky brown colour. You could try adding an anti-oxidising agent, like lemon juice, but you’re best just to do it the laborious old fashioned way, to order as they are needed.

1/3 glass White Peach puree, top with Champagne

With both of these, there is huge room for experimentation, use whatever local, ripe, amazing fruit you can get your hands on. The Tokyo Strawberry Bellini is worth a crack too.


Personally, i think lunch is the absolute perfect time for a sparkling glass. But if you must have something that’s been adulterated, let me suggest the Imperial Mojito, The French 75 or perhaps a delicious punch.

The Sparkling Ginger Daisy & The East Hollywood Sparkling Sangria over at Sloshed! also are going to be making it on my Christmas drinks list.


While the classic Champagne cocktail is a great way to start any night, I’d also recommend changing the Gin for Cognac in your French 75. Alternatively, try this:

Ritz Cocktail

22.5mls ounce Cognac (Hennessy), 15mls Cointreau, 15mls Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, 15mls  Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice,  Champagne (approximately 90mls) stir all but the Champagne over ice, strain up and top with champagne.   Garnish with a flamed orange peel




The Tokyo Strawberry Bellini

6710For anyone that has been to Japan and enjoyed the craft and selection of liquor on show at any of the great standing bars in the city, the experience of every aspect of the production being focussed on perfection, the quality of experience is astounding.

When my girlfriend and I visited Tokyo 18 months ago, we visited an unnamed glass cube attached to the bottom of a non-descript eight story apartment building in the back streets of Hiro prefecture. While I drank my way through the finest selection of Rums I have ever seen, Chelsey ordered a Champagne cocktail. The bartender agreed and pulled out three of the plumpest most wonderful looking strawberries I have ever seen in my life and went to work.

Last night I made an effort at recreating this fabulous beverage.

Not having access to the most perfect fruit on earth, I made do with Australian produce and muddled ten large red strawberries with about 15 mls of 1:1 sugar syrup. Muddling is the fine art of pounding fruit and sugar together to form a puree. You want to try and free as much of the juice as is possible from the fibrous tendrils of the strawberry goodness. Once you have your juicy pulp, you need to strain it to remove the juice from the pulp. As this is the Tokyo Strawberry Bellini, I opted to triple strain the liquid. this means passing it through the strainer three times, you could also use three strainers, one on top of the other. The result is a vibrant red liquid with an absolute minimum of pulp and absolutely no seeds.

Reserve the pulp to use in Strawberry frozen daiquiris or spread it on toast for a punchy alternative to jam. 

Chill the glasses first, or maybe load a couple in the freezer the day before.

Pour the refined juice into a Champagne flute, aiming to fill the glass about one third full. Top up with Bubbles, I am making the most of the cheap abundance of Pinot and Chardonnay based Aussie bubbles on offer here, but in keeping with the nature of the drink and its forebears, the best you have at hand is probably the way to go. Garnish with the best looking strawberry you have and love every drop that slides down your throat.

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