When it comes to parties and entertaining, “anything sparkling sets a festive mood,” says Jason Obermeier, the beverage manager for RM Champagne Salon in Chicago, where more than 100 different sparking options — from champagne to prosecco to cava — are on the menu.
“There’s something about popping a bottle of champagne and hearing the sound of a cork that never really gets old. Everybody’s faces always light up,” he says.
The first references to champagne came at least 350 years ago, in Europe. In America, it “has long been seen a symbol, not a beverage,” the magazine Punch Drink says — something for royals, or the wealthy, or for a special occasion. But champagne (a name given only to bottles made with grapes grown in the Champagne region of France) and other sparkling wines are also an easy way to add a touch of celebration to any cocktail, for any occasion.
That was part of the inspiration for Obermeier’s newest cocktail, “A Rainy Day in Paris,” which can add a little bit of warmth and romance in an often dreary season. He starts with cucumber-infused vodka — but not the syrupy bottled stuff from the store. Infusing liquors at home is simple, he says. Throw a bunch of sliced cucumbers into a bottle of vodka. Shake daily and “keep tasting until you get the flavor you want.” That could be a day, four days, or a week, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.
He balances the infused vodka with crème de violette for a deep, herbal flavor, before adding pineapple simple syrup (equal parts pineapple sugar and water) for a touch of sweetness and lime juice for some acidity. After shaking with ice, Obermeier strains the mixture into a champagne flute and tops with a bit of prosecco, for a refreshing, bubbly kick with each sip.
A Rainy Day in Paris
Courtesy of Jason Obermeier, RM Champagne Bar, Chicago
1.5 oz cucumber-infused vodka
0.5 oz crème de violette
0.75 oz pineapple syrup
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into champagne flute. Top with prosecco. Garnish with luxardo cherry.
We’re closing out 2017 with 12 days of cocktails, a series of traditional and unusual holiday drink recipes from bartenders, mixologists and beverage directors across the country. Find them as they’re published here.