Does English Sparkling Wine work in cocktails? Marco Corallo, a former sommelier and now award-winning mixologist and Head Bartender of Artesian at The Langham, thinks so. It’s all about balance and letting your ingredients work together.
Purists may express bewilderment at the merest mention of mixing fine English sparkling wine with anything except the right company and the right occasion. But when you consider the role of champagne in classic cocktails, it’s only natural that creative, quintessentially English combinations are bubbling into existence.
So why does English sparkling wine work well in cocktails? And which ingredients match with which Gusbourne sparkling wine style – Brut, Rosé or Blanc de Blancs?
We asked Marco Corallo for his expert suggestions…
Start with a classic cocktail
Take the French 75. Traditionally made with gin, champagne, lemon juice and simple sugar syrup, it’s a light and fresh apéritif, balanced and citrussy. So why not a British version?
“For a British 75,” says Marco, “I’d use Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs instead of a Blanc de Blancs champagne – both are 100% Chardonnay. Start with Caorunn gin, add a little elderflower cordial – that’s typically English – and top up with Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs. Its crisp, citrussy notes go particularly well with gin or vodka-based cocktails.”
More classics, this time from Italy, are the Negroni Sbagliato (sweet red vermouth, Campari, prosecco) and the Spritz (Aperol or Campari, prosecco, soda water), which usually call for Prosecco. Here, Marco praises the versatility of Gusbourne Brut Reserve, which can be used in most classic sparkling recipes. “It’s versatile enough to ‘announce’ the main character of those drinks while creating a really balanced cocktail.”
Now get creative
Marco notes that sparkling rosé goes exceptionally well with berries. And using Gusbourne Rosé, he would create a twist on one of the cocktails on the menu at Artesian: Russian Spring Punch. “It’s a classic cocktail usually made with vodka, berries and champagne. For our version we created a sour cherry and white cacao cordial, mixed with vodka. We’d normally top up with champagne, but in my opinion the Gusbourne Rosé would be absolutely banging with this combination of flavours.”
For an event organised with a London Dry-style gin brand, Marco and his team were sent some great British products to play with. One was frozen garden peas! “So we made a garden pea and elderflower cordial. That British 75 would work well with this – very bright and green and vegetal. And in this instance I’d top it up with Gusbourne Brut Reserve to emphasise the brightness of the ingredients.”
Embrace the drier style
Compared to champagne, English Sparkling Wine has a slightly drier style. In fact, French champagne houses began producing drier styles – le goût anglais – in the late 19th century as a direct response to pressure from their biggest export market across the Channel. Is this a strength when it comes cocktails?
“Yes, of course!” says Marco. “From a bartender’s or a mixologist’s perspective, that dryness really gives you a canvas that is different from champagne.
“Champagne has a distinctive sweetness to it, even in its dry styles, which means it’s sometimes difficult to balance with other ingredients. But Gusbourne, especially the Brut Reserve, is much more versatile for mixing, because it gives you the chance to add sweetness in other parts of the cocktail and not overpower.
“Every cocktail is a play of balance. Play with your ingredients and you’ll find the balance.”
Know each wine’s character
Before you start playing with your ingredients, Master Sommelier and Gusbourne Brand Ambassador Laura Rhys describes what makes each of our sparkling wines unique.
Delicate mousse. Good length and poise of structure. Let it be the star.
Full of fruit character: cherry, wild strawberry and rhubarb are good matches.
Ripe apple and rounded fruit character. Stands up to ginger, fennel, aniseed.
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