Champagne in a Can and the French 75
A big birthday bash was shaping up at my sister's house, so she called and asked for a cocktail idea. "Something for Spring," she said. "What is this Spring you speak of?" I asked. Red robins were returning to my yard, having flown back south after last month's freakish weather.
Photos by John Kiely Sometimes, expensive bubbly is not required.
"Just a light cocktail, before dinner," she added. I wanted to say apéritif, but it's one of those SAT words that make you sound like a dumbass when used in casual conversation. "A French 75 would be perfect," I said. "It has Plymouth, which is gin for people who hate gin, lemon juice, and Champagne.
Ideally, the drink does use Champagne, but for many Champagne cocktails, a similar sparkling wine can be used. Bartenders often use Korbel, a California champagne (with a lower case "c") that's value-priced, because the delicate subtleties of French Champagne can get edged out by spirits and fruit juices, and the effervescence disappears before the whole bottle can be used. It would hurt to pour flat Veuve Clicquot down the drain.
For the same reasons, I'd been using Sofia, a sparkling blanc de blancs wine in a pull-top can. It had been recommended by a sommelier who didn't want his name used, because champagne-in-a-can. I trusted him, because Sofia is produced by Francis Ford Coppola, a man who made phenomenal movies and makes reliable mass-market wine. You can't go wrong watching The Godfather with a glass of Coppola Pinot Noir, though viewing Apocalypse Now while sipping Sofia through a straw is a noir of a different color.
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