Bradstreet's Fireside 75, a champagne cocktail made with gin and cognac.

Bre Mcgee, Special to the Star Tribune

Bradstreet’s Andrew Campbell adds the finishing touch to a Fireside 75.

BRE McGEE, Special to the Star Tribune

Champagne gets a facelift in new cocktails

  • Article by: michael rietmulder
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • December 27, 2013 - 2:48 PM

Champagne has become a universal symbol of celebration. From the pop of the cork to the convivial flute clinking and mouth-tickling fizziness, the entire experience of the carbonated French wine (and its sparkling doppelgängers) is a sensorial party.

Package all of that with its opulent connotation and it’s no wonder the good-life vino is the official drink of New Year’s Eve. But when the midnight countdown starts on Tuesday it doesn’t have to be the only thing in your glass.

Champagne and sparkling white wines have found their way into cocktails for more than 150 years. So if you’re looking for a toasting alternative while you’re out on the town, try one of these bubbled-up signature drinks.

Trinidad 75 at Marvel Bar

In lieu of ringing in the year with a starlit Caribbean beach party, tundra-bound Twin Citians might achieve a similar mind state with this cabana-night sipper. Trinidad 75 is its own effervescent beast, but draws inspiration from classic Champagne cocktails the French 75 and the Kir Royale. Its piquant base of Angostura bitters (produced in Trinidad and Tobago) is sweetened and softened with orgeat and brightened with sparkling wine and a brisk lemony tartness. Plans were still coming together at press time, but the North Loop cocktail cave will also feature a special Champagne and sparkling drinks menu on NYE.

50 N. 2nd Av., Mpls. • 612-206-3929•

Fireside 75 at Bradstreet Craftshouse

Cocktail history is rarely as clear as a shot of gin, and there’s been much debate over whether the first French 75 — named for a French gun used in World War I — called for the botanical spirit or Cognac. Deliciously not taking sides, Bradstreet’s seductive interpretation uses both a London Dry gin and Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac. Between the Cognac and subbing in maple syrup for sugar or simple syrup, the Fireside 75 is a more robust and cozier alternative to its gin-only brethren, which has become more common in the U.S. Sweet but not cloying, this handsomely balanced cocktail is a luscious way to begin the new year.

601 1st Av. N., Mpls. • 612-312-1821


Champagne bar at Cosmos

If you’d rather not muddy your Champagne with too many additions, check out the recently added make-your-own Champagne cocktail station at Cosmos. Pick your bubbles, bitters and liqueur, and bartenders at the loungey restaurant above Bradstreet in the Graves 601 Hotel will whip up your custom potable using the classic Champagne cocktail formula. On a recent visit, we augmented Sophora’s sparkling cuvée with a touch of Aperol and a sugar cube soaked with Bittercube’s Jamaica No. 2 for a slightly spicy and bittersweet twist.

601 1st Av. N., Mpls. • 612-312-1168 •

The Mistletoe at La Belle Vie

We’re told this recurring holiday elixir is a favorite among female guests and frankly we’re not surprised. While the menu defines this spunky martini as “sparkling clementine pomegranate holiday cheer,” a little nosiness reveals a three-headed base of gin and clementine and citrus vodkas, bolstered by Cointreau, pomegranate juice and seeds, orange bitters and a sweet-and-sour mix. The cava-topped treat has all the lovely citrus layers promised — singularly identifiable yet cohesively blended — cinched up with a crisp, dry finish. This short-lived seasonal cocktail is available only between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve, so grab this big and bubbly treat while you can.

510 Groveland Av., Mpls. • 612-874-6440 •

Make your own

Don’t feel like fighting the NYE bar crowds? There’s no reason not to mix up one of these sparkling classics at home. These traditional, easy-to-make recipes are provided by Twin Cities cocktail vet and Southern Wine and Spirits mixologist Jeff Rogers.

Champagne cocktail

• 1 sugar cube

• 2-3 dashes of bitters

• Top with Champagne or sparkling wine

French 75

• 2 oz. gin or Cognac

• ½ oz. simple syrup

• ¾ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

• Top with Champagne or sparkling wine

• Garnish with lemon twist

Royal Kir

• ¾ to 1 oz. crème de cassis

• Top with Champagne or sparkling wine


Michael Rietmulder writes about bars, beer and nightlife.

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