It's that time of year again, when we all develop that natural inclination to reach for something bubbly. From the festive ceremony of opening a bottle, to the golden (and sometimes rose and ruby) color, to the brimming effervescence and lively mouthfeel, sparkling wine has so many traits that make it ideal for capping off moments of celebration. And while a fresh pour of nicely chilled Italian prosecco or Spanish cava or French Champagne on its own can be a delightful beverage, sparkling wine cocktails can be even more dynamic and fun.
The history of sparking cocktails is a rich one; several classics immediately come to mind, such as the elegant French 75, the fruity Bellini, and the sweet, crisp Champagne cocktail. Today's bartenders have been busy mining this vein, not only turning out novel interpretations of some old favorites but also taking the cocktail category in exciting new directions.
In Chicago, both practices are on display at two of our favorite places to toast this time of year: Sepia, where Josh Pearson presides over the handsome marble bar, and Pops for Champagne, a longtime fixture of the city's bubbly scene, which is headed up by Beverage Director W. Craig Cooper. We recently had both barmen walk us through some options and came away with five recipes—some harkening back to classics, some thoroughly modern—that us amateur bartenders will have no trouble replicating in all their fizzy finery for an upcoming celebration at home.