A Freshen-up Champagne

Sep 11, 2020 • 5 mins

Juste like a “coquetaile”, as writer Roger Nimier would have said, Champagne is increasingly willing to marry others as it recognises the fact that new ideas will ensure longevity and guarantee an eternal youth...once again.

Purists should abstain. Diluting champagne has always made them bubble with rage. Perverting champagne in cocktails, dissolving its soul in colourful mixtures, shaking it...it’s all too much. And it’s no laughing matter. Champagne should be pure! The latest trend however is for diversification and mixing components and flavours. Cognac, Calvados and Armagnac have been doing this for years and to the great joy of their bookkeepers. There are new, younger, easier, more festive ways of selling flagging products in these current times of austerity.

Champagne is following the trend initiated, in the world of still wines and introduced, by the rosé, enjoyed as a “swimming pool” sized-drink in nightclubs, on board yachts and on the beach at Pampelonne. Poured into a huge glass where a battalion of ice cubes quickly melt into a beverage with a somewhat pale appearance.

Competition has become unpleasant. Spanish Cava and Italian Prosecco have wreaked havoc for champagne and its festive consumption. Of lesser quality, they mislead with delight and no ulterior motive. The king of sparkle is loath to wade in - it’s chilly in every sense of the word. The dilemma is more financial than philosophical, so it was quickly resolved (excepted for orthodox champagne drinkers). Hemingway did not wait for any trend when in 1935 in Cuba he created Death in the Afternoon, a cocktail sharing the name with his book about bullfighting. The recipe couldn’t be simpler: 1/4 absinthe and 3/4 Champagne. If the cocktail has become a literary icon, tolerance levels may fall clear...of safety. Mixology does not need such references and continues to create extravagant mixtures also based around Champagne. None of them allow mixing a sparkling wine with other alcohol and fruit, as we would mix a modest white with crème de cassis. Though describing cocktails made with champagne with the adjective “royal” is not enough to dampen the anger of champagne fans. After all, it is about compromiser making: an ordinary brut cuts the mustard. Let those who dare to use a vintage in the blender of depravity embrace their responsibilities, as we say in politics...  

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