Bubble Me UP!

I sit in meetings about food and drink all day, every day as I listen to my fabulous clients dream out loud about what will make their next fete special.  What’s on everyone’s lips these days is cocktails with bubbles. I have to agree with my clients, there is just something about a little carbonation in a cocktail that says “celebrate!”  And, you never have to ask me twice!

Back in the day, adding club soda or tonic to a cocktail was a way to save calories or dilute the strong taste of alcohol. Fast forward to 2010 and a little carbonation is no longer a side-kick but instead the star of the show.  Pellegrino, Stirrings and Ramlosa are three brands of bubbly waters that turn up the volume on quality and put what we’ve all been buying at Target for all these years to shame.  Q Tonic is an amazing tonic water that is made from hand-picked quinine from the Peruvian Andes and organic agave for sweetness. This new class of mixers are of the purest quality and really do make your cocktails taste cleaner – allowing the real flavor to shine through…diluting absolutely nothing.

Here at home, Adam Seger’s HUM on the rocks with lime and a splash of bubbly water is the newest Chicago fizz to crave. HUM, for those not familiar, is rum infused with fair trade hibiscus, organic ginger, green cardamom and kaffir lime. It’s incredible and just so different…I can’t get enough. What I love about this cocktail is that it’s light enough for summer, but substantial enough for a winter cocktail as well.  And, for the record, I hate it when my cocktails abandon me at the end of a season.

Per usual, the Violet Hour, the vanguard of Chicago’s serious cocktail scene, takes their bubbles as seriously as I do.  On a recent evening, one of their stylish bartenders whipped up an “As You Wish” for me.  As if this line from The Princess Bride doesn’t already make me shiver with delight, the cocktail itself, (Organic Plymouth Gin with lime, neroli-violet syrup and housemade tonic water,) simply compounded the effect.

The Kings of NYC haven’t turned their heads to the trend either.  At Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café, Aperol, Campari and Cynar are being mixed with sparkling mineral water for a “Venetian Spritz”.  Mario Batali has gotten into the light bubbles and shared his Mango Spritz with Aperol on Martha’s site. (Seems she’s in on it too….)

For something a bit more upscale, the World Bar in Manhattan is promoting a signature cocktail called the “World Cocktail” which incorporates Remy Martin X.O. Cognac, white grape juice, bitters and Pineau des Charentes. The drink is hand-shaken, strained into a chilled glass and filled with Veuve Clicquot Champagne.  Granted, these bubbles are of a different grade (champagne, instead of tonic water or club soda….) but, I say: why deny anyone entrance to the party!?!

So now the holiday season is upon us and I am seriously inspired.  A new series of bold and bubbly cocktails are on their way at Entertaining Company.  Will keep you posted.  Bubbles hit just the right note between refreshing effervescence and light luxury in a glass…

Now, back to my research.  Um….Bartender?