Maybe it's the drama of popping a cork. Or the belief that bubbles bring booze straight to your head. Whatever the reason, when it's time to celebrate – especially around the holidays – we don't reach for plain old wine, whiskey, or beer: We raise a glass of bubbly. "Champagne is an optimist's drink," says François Morisson, bartender at New York's Minetta Tavern. "Bubbles just make people feel happy – they're always rising to the top." But there's more to do with champagne than simply pouring it into a flute. With one of the Minetta team's easy, sophisticated recipes, you can create a memorable cocktail that'll have you buzzing into next year.
1. Cole Fizz (pictured, above, left)
Morisson says: "This is a light, refreshing, easygoing drink. You could easily have five of them."
• 1.5 oz cane juice–based rum, like Rhum J.M Blanc
• .25 oz yellow Chartreuse
• .25 oz agave syrup
• .5 oz fresh lime juice
• 1 egg white
• Dash of grapefruit bitters
Shake all ingredients, except champagne, with ice. Strain into a rocks glass, and then top with champagne. No garnish needed with a fizz-style cocktail.
2. Mini Fee (above, center)
Morisson says: "This one's supereasy to make, but don't forget, it's a strong cocktail – there are two ounces of gin in there."
• Handful of fresh basil
• Fresh huckleberry (also works with strawberry, raspberry, or mission fig)
• 2 oz aromatic gin, like Hendrick's
• .25 oz lemon juice
Muddle basil and berry, then add gin and lemon juice. Shake with ice and strain through a tea strainer into a white-wine glass (the smaller wine glass). Top with champagne and garnish with a fresh basil leaf.
3. Good News (above, right)
Morisson says: "The Calvados makes this a warm, intimate drink – perfect when you have something to share with friends."
• 1.5 oz Calvados (French apple brandy)
• .5 oz lemon juice
• .25 oz ginger liqueur
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a Collins glass with rocks, and top with champagne. Garnish with slice of fresh ginger.