We all know that I’ve been on a bit of a Champagne flap for the past month, so let it be known that it will continue for at least one more article.
I was at the grocery store last night, buying sushi from the seafood bar. After making my selection (two California rolls), I happened by the wine section, and was immediately interested in the available stock. After perusing through the French, Spanish, and North Carolina wines, I came upon the Champagne selection and was reminded of my seemingly inherent love for the bubbly libation. I scanned the shelves until noticing a sticker that said “Wine & Spirits Magazine – Best Value Brand, 3 Years in a Row” on the neck of a bottle of Cristalino Brut. Intrigued, I purchased the bottle and made my way home. The sushi was delicious, better than most Japanese restaurants I’ve been to over the years actually. My ideas for the Champagne, however, were not as successful.
I enjoy experimenting with simple beverages, trying new ingredient combinations and hoping they have a good taste. I had it in my mind that I would combine two great choices together to create one amazing combination; I took two thirds of a glass of Champagne and mixed in one part Raspberry Lemonade. I was eager to create the newest Champagne-driven summer beverage, and upon mixing the two, I held my glass up in triumph. I gazed admiringly at the pink color as the light filtered through it, and I was momentarily startled by the muddled nature of it. I took an appraising sniff of the cocktail, and was further startled. Not quite as pleasant as I thought it would be. But that didn’t put me off that much; After all, I don’t particularly like the smell of vodka, but it is still my favorite spirit. I took a careful sip, and… failure. I was appalled at how these two individually great drinks absolutely fail to combine together in a drinkable mixture. The biting lemon citrus clashed so spectacularly with the apple undertones of the Champagne, that I almost did a spit-take.
The grimace on my face was evidently comical, as my female companion began snickering under her breath at me. I immediately drained the rest of the beverage, with what I’m sure was a look of humiliation written across my face, as my latest idea for a new cocktail recipe went down the metaphorical drain.
I spent several minutes wondering how it went wrong, and just eventually summed it up to clashing fruits. Perhaps orange juice works well with Brut Champagne because it is sweet, and the sweetness does not contradict the inherently sweet nature of the Champagne. Same with cranberry juice. Upon this failure, I was overcome with a bout of frustration and just decided to make a Mimosa, to cheer myself up. I reached into the refrigerator and pulled out the bottle of orange juice, when my gaze caught something; Next to my bottle of Hooch (that is a story for a different day), I noticed my nearly unused bottle of Triple Sec. “Eureka,” I cried, as I decided to mix something quite a bit stiffer than a Mimosa. I measured out two ounces of Triple Sec and mixed it with three ounces of Champagne. I took a sniff and noted the orange scent associated with an orange liqueur. Holding it up to the light revealed no muddled colors, as there was only the clear effervescence of sparkling wine. I gave my female companion a triumphant grin, and informed her that I believed this to be the one. She shook her head and went back to her glass of milk, while I took a calculating sip. I thoughtfully tasted the fizzing orange liqueur concoction and… success! It was a delightful combination, very similar to the Mimosa in taste, but nothing like it in texture. Obviously the viscosity of orange juice changes the complexion, and replacing it with Triple Sec keeps a bright orange taste, but without thickening the texture. It also adds 24% ABV, so it has a lot more of an effect on the drinker. All in all, it was a triumphant experience, because immediately after approving of the taste… I went to the Champagne Ingredient database at Bar None Drinks and browsed through the entire list… to find not a single beverage that contained only Champagne and Triple Sec. There are two libations that combine with a different orange liqueur, but not the ever-ready, ever-popular Triple Sec. Could it be a new mixture, not yet named? I’m sure someone else has done it before, but evidently an official name has not been applied.
Until now: Behold, The McCollum Fizz.