I don’t think I really know what the term “Champagne Year” means. I faintly recall someone telling me sometime, but the definition felt unremarkable and unfitting for such a forceful duo of words — CHAMPAGNE YEAR — so my brain must have immediately rejected it. When I think “Champagne Year,” I think of a train of silk gowns and draped jewels and patent shoes; a turbulent cha-cha line of bodies whose heads are obscured by a cloud of laughter and smoke and chatter as they shimmy down Easy Street. Or perhaps more profoundly — a year that is so momentous as to warrant a yearlong dance party and some self-satisfaction, or Burt Bacharach getting to that “Something Big” he’d been holding out for. I think of raised arms and triumphant cheering. I think of a kind of victory. And when I think victory, I think revenge.
Revenge often gets maligned, but it can be pretty great if you do it right. Firstly, it’s almost always best achieved by a life well-lived, and secondly, it is best served cold. And since there’s no time like the present, or no present like time or whatever, 2022 could be a great year for crushing the dicks of all your enemies by living well. And for that, you’re gonna need a lot of champagne!
If you can dress for the job you want, you can drink for the person you want to be. Sure, drinking champagne with caviar over fine linen at a respectable hour for a special occasion is nice and classy, but opening up your best bottle in the late morning to drink with your dim sum on a whim is a total power move. Power moves are central to living well and, on occasion, demand you embrace frivolity and excess. (P.S. Champagne with dim sum is sensational.)
In fact, Champagne with nearly anything is sensational, and this year, it’s been promoted to a grocery list staple. I buy the best I can afford in multiples (all sparkling wines included here), and I buy them in half bottles, because I want a celebration not a commitment. (And also because even though I may not be preoccupied with saving the good stuff, I’m also not keen on wasting it either.) There’s no safer bet than drinking the stuff unadorned, but this is a cocktail column, after all, so here are some serving suggestions.
- Drink it on the side. That’s right. Go ahead, double fist. That’s some straight up best-self manifestation right there. I love ordering a glass of Prosecco with my Negroni. It is immensely pleasurable. So is an Old Fashioned with a side of bubbly. And so on and forth.
- Top your cocktail up with Champagne. Skip the extra vessel and just pour your champagne right into your Negroni and/or the blood of your foes. I can vouch for the aforementioned combination but generally, even though it’s a trendy “upsell” I’ve seen at bars, I don’t know that I could employ this method as indiscriminately. But if it appeals to you, by all means.
- Sub it in. Use Champagne as a replacement for club soda in a Collins-style cocktail. Ruthless meet Genius.
But perhaps, after running through the above suggestions, you still want a proper cocktail, perhaps an extra celebratory mimosa-type thing. Good news: We’ve got a fancy French recipe for your everyday bottomless vindication.
Et Voilà, Le Cocktail De Triomphe Pour Vous!
- 30 ml gin or light rum
- 30 ml white grapefruit juice
- 6 ml lemon juice
- 6 ml simple
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 2 grapefruit twists
- Dry sparkling wine of choice (or on hand)
Express and leave one of the grapefruit peels directly into the shaker. Add all other ingredients except champagne. Fill shaker with ice, and then shake and strain into a champagne flute. Top with bubbles and garnish with grapefruit twist.
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