It's the most wonderful time of the year—so bring on the comfort & joy, we say. In The Art of Chill Holidays, we'll show you how we keep celebrations low-key, with festive decor tricks, clever time-saving tips, and scrumptious spreads of snacks (always snacks!).
The other day, my friend texted me what should have been an easy question for a bubbly-drink lover like myself: "I just bought a bottle of Prosecco. What cocktail should I make?"
Had she asked me a few months ago, the answer would have been really obvious. An Aperol Spritz! May through September, the bright orange, just-boozy-enough crowd-pleaser is my pick whenever the occasion calls for bubbles (I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t love the drink). But there’s something that just feels off about toasting with a summer-weather refresher when there’s snow outside and you’re listening to the fireplace roar.
While I may not have had one go-to winter sparkler at the ready, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have an answer for her. Just the opposite—I had a whole bunch of ideas. Without a clear spritzy front runner, I suggested picking a direction based on two factors: 1) the level of booziness desired and 2) what's in her fridge or bar cart.
Should you find yourself in a similar predicament, check out all my suggestions below. With the holidays in full swing and New Year's Eve around the corner, these should keep you busy until 2019! (Psst: We may be talking Prosecco here, but you can use any dry sparkling wine or Champagne you like or have on hand.)
The Mimosa-Model: Prosecco + Fresh Juice + Optional Garnish
There are a bunch of reasons mimosas and Bellinis are so popular. For one, they’re delicious. Two, you only need a few easy-to-find ingredients to make them. And maybe most importantly, cutting something already relatively light like Prosecco with another non-alcoholic ingredient gives you a sessionable, low-ABV option you can sip on for a good chunk of the day without busting out any embarrassing dance moves. (The fourth reason I’ll whisper: Sweet, fresh-squeezed juice totally masks any questionable-looking bottles hanging around your fridge, gifted to you from who-knows-who.)
You can definitely stick with classic OJ here, but I prefer to mix it up, using the mimosa formula as a model (4 ounces Prosecco + splash of juice + optional garnish). Here are a few seasonal combos to get you going; but honestly, any juice in your fridge will work!
- Prosecco + fresh grapefruit juice + strip of lemon zest, grapefruit zest, or rosemary sprig
- Prosecco + fresh blood orange juice + dash of bitters + strip of blood orange zest
- Prosecco + pomegranate juice + pomegranate arils, cinnamon stick, or whole star anise
- Prosecco + pear juice + dried pear slice, fresh or candied ginger slice, or strip of lemon zest
Spritzy: Prosecco + Light Booze + Optional Flavor + Garnish
Instead of cutting the bubbly with just juice, here we're adding a liqueur, lighter spirit, or fortified wine into the mix—in the style of my summer jam, the Aperol Spritz. The ratios are not quite as forgiving as the mimosa cocktail, so unless you're comfortable mixing to your taste I'd suggest sticking to a recipe. Here are few of my faves, which feel a bit more appropriate for the season:
- Cynar Spritz: 3 oz Prosecco + 2 oz Cynar + splash club soda + lemon wheel and Castelvetrano olives, for garnish
- Negroni Sbagliato: 2 oz Prosecco + 2 oz sweet vermouth + 2 oz Campari + strip of orange zest, for garnish
- Moon Walk: 1 oz orange liqueur + 1 oz grapefruit juice + 2 drops rose water + top up with Prosecco
- Nonino Spritz: 4 oz Prosecco + 1 oz Nonino amaro + 1 oz club soda + orange slice, for garnish
French 75-ish: Prosecco + Juice + Hard Booze + Sweetener or Flavor + Garnish
To take it up one more notch, take a cue from any classic cocktails that build on a spirit plus a flavor, and then top up with sparkling wine (if the recipe calls for Champagne, you can definitely swap in Prosecco). I find that I especially like sparkling cocktails that use gin, but all kinds of other spirits work well here too. (In fact, classic versions of one of the most popular sparkling wine and gin cocktails, the French 75, called for Cognac.) If the recipe calls for citrus, just remember to shake that together with the spirit in a cocktail shaker separately first, before adding to your glass and topping up with the wine.
- Classic French 75: 2 oz gin or Cognac + 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice + 3/4 oz simple syrup (1:1 honey and water) + strip of lemon zest, for garnish
- Blood Orange French 75: 1 oz gin + 1 oz fresh blood orange juice + 1/2 oz honey + top with Prosecco
- Air Mail: 1.5 oz añejo rum + 3/4 oz fresh lime juice + 1 oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and water) + top with Prosecco + mint leave and bitters, for garnish
- Death in the Afternoon: 1.5 oz absinthe (or Pernod) + 4 oz Prosecco
What are your favorite Prosecco cocktails? Share your ideas in the comments!