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Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living. - Robert Mondavi

Wine-based Specialty Cocktails!

Saturday, May 14, 2016
It's May and Napa is blooming with weekend weddings! In my opinion, no wedding is complete without the chiming of wine glasses in cheers - I personally will never forget the spectacle of my father saboring the top off of a bottle of champagne at my own wedding in Napa at Auberge du Soleil! For those blushing brides who are looking to go beyond just a straight pour from the proverbial bottle, these wine-based cocktails will refresh and satisfy any guest. Plus, by including a signature wine-based cocktail at your wedding, you can dazzle your guests with a hint of personality while saving on your budget by eliminating a need for a full bar.  

Have your service staff tray-pass the cocktails at the reception to manage the inevitable crowd at the bar. Or consider serving a specialty cocktail during the cake cutting as a more edgy alternative to an espresso bar or champagne toast. Below are some favorites I'm bringing back for wedding season!

Saint G. Hibiscus Mimosa
Next to the Bloody Mary, the mimosa is the most famed daytime cocktail, but more elegant and better suited for festive occasions. For a more inventive alternative, try this sophisticated twist on the standard mimosa.  The addition of tangy hibiscus flowers and sultry St. Germain maintain the delicate, fruity nature of a mimosa and the beautiful hibiscus flower is exotic and festive.  I first served this beautiful rose-hued drink at a wedding shower, but it would be just as well-suited for a wedding brunch or bachelorette party.  

1 Wild Hibiscus Flower*
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Wild Hibiscus Syrup
1 oz soda water or sparkling grapefruit juice
4 oz Dry Sparkling Wine or Prosecco

Place flower in champagne flute. Mix the next 3 ingredients and strain into champagne flute. Top with dry sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon twist.

• Visit WildHibiscus.com for more information on hibiscus flowers in syrup

Classic Champagne Cocktail
Just as a ring is the ultimate symbol for tying the knot, nothing says celebration like a champagne cocktail.  This timeless libation has a special place in my heart as it was recommended by sommelier Erik of Thomas Keller’s restaurant, Bouchon, where I got engaged. I also enjoyed this classic many times on my honeymoon; there is just something about sparkling that accentuates joyful occasions unlike any other drink.  Best served on a silver platter during cocktail hour with canapes, or paired with dessert - the hint of sweetness from the sugar can handle wedding cake and creates another great opportunity for a toast.

1 cube sugar
1 ounce Cognac
5 ounces chilled Champagne

Drop bitters onto sugar cube; let soak in. Place sugar cube in a Champagne flute. Add Cognac, and top with Champagne.

Continental Sour
This classic layered sweet and sour drink gets its sweetness from mulled wine.  This drink will warm you up from its rye base and spicy mulled wine and is best served as a festive addition to dessert.  Tip: Use the mulled wine to poach pears, then serve them with creme fraiche or ice cream for a festive fall or winter dessert paired with this cocktail.

1 oz Ritten House Rye - 100 Proof
1 oz fresh lemon juice  
1 dash simple syrup
1 dash Orange Curacao
Shake all ingredients, then fine strain into a chilled port glass (copita_ or a Nick and Nora glass.  
1 oz Blood Orange Mulled wine should be floated at the top of the glass.
Garnish with blood orange.

Mulled Wine Ingredients:
Blood Orange, Cinnamon Sticks, Cardamom, Cloves, Sugar, Star Anise, Nutmeg and red wine.  Combine in a pot and boil.  

The French 75
I served this as a special cocktail for my husband’s birthday in Napa this year and pre-made a pitcher in advance so I could easily pour and serve it to guests as they arrived.  This cocktail works beautifully for wedding showers, rehearsal dinners or engagement parties and served with light  canapes, oysters or seared scallops.

1.5 oz Gin
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
Shake well, strain into flute.
top off with 2.5 oz of Champange or prosecco
Garnish with a mint sprig pierced through a lemon slice and floated in the champagne flute.

The French A5:
Amy Jacot, Head mixologist from San Francisco’s hot 5A5 Steakhouse coined the name for this drink one day while playing around with new drink recipes. Particularly fond of  the aforementioned “French 75”, Amy wanted to create a cocktail that was reminiscent of it while being more approachable to a sweeter palate. After a few different iterations, the French A5 was born and went on to become the top-selling cocktail on 5A5’s drink menu.  This light and slightly sweet cocktail pairs wonderfully with hard cheeses or with spicy passed appetizers.
Recipe Courtesy of Steve Chen, owner or 5A5 Steakhouse, San Francisco.  Recipe created by Amy Jacot, Resident Mixologist and Bar Lead at 5A5 Steakhouse, SF.

1.25 oz Ketel One
0.75 oz St-Germain
0.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
2 oz Proseco
.25 oz Chambord

Combine Ketel One, St-Germain, and grapefruit juice and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a
champagne flute, and top with Prosecco. Carefully sink the Chambord, so that a very faint rainbow effect appears at the bottom of the glass.

HIP SIPS’ Herbsaint Champagne Love Brew
A New Orleans favorite, this anise-spiked sparkling cocktail is one Courtney Cochran whipped up for the Cosmic Love Ball – an annual fete in San Francisco celebrating the culture of love through music and live theater (how very SF, right?).  Pair it with something spicy - shrimp or sashimi canapes or something sweet - pie and gelato to compliment the anise.
Recipe provided Courtesy of Courtney Cochran, certified sommelier, Your Personal Sommelier®, San Francisco, and author of Hip Tastes: The Fresh Guide to Wine.

Herbsaint (anise liqueur)
Massenet Crème de Mure (blackberry liqueur)
or Mathilde Crème de Cassis (black currant liqueur)
Lemon twist

Combine 1/2 glass Champagne or good sparkling wine with 1/2 ounce chilled crème de mure and 1/4 ounce anise liqueur; for best results, shake the liqueurs together and strain into the bubbly.  Add the lemon twist and rock on.

The Black Sabbath
This perfectly balanced, delicious and restorative cocktail created by Gail Izaguirre from San Francisco’s iconic Foreign Cinema restaurant, is fresh on the palate, uplifting in spirit, and lovely to look at.  Serve this festive and refreshing libation during the cocktail reception with Fruits de Mer, Brandade, Melons and Prosciutto.
Recipe provided courtesy of Greg Borden, Beverage Director; Mas Farmhouse and Mas la Grillade and former Wine Director; Cafe Claude, Gitane, Claudine, San Francisco.  

1/2 oz freshly pressed Lemon Juice - when in season, use Meyer Lemon
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 oz Solerno Blood Orange liqueur
Top off with Prosecco

Served tall over ice; garnish with a blood orange twist and a smoked salt rim.

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