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Champagne Wishes

Having limited options can sometimes be an opportunity to create! That’s just what I did one morning on our trip to the Dominican Republic.

For my birthday, The Hubs had champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting in our room after we returned from dinner. It was a wonderful treat and a very sweet surprise.

But an even bigger surprise was the fantastic cocktail I crafted the next morning. Surprised to see a few bits of ice still floating in the stainless steel wine chiller, I thought I would pour a little and hope for some bubbles. Amazingly, the champagned fizzed up to the top of my glass and I knew I was in business.

Now, I just needed a little orange juice or a splash of Chambord and I would soon be kicked back on the balcony sipping with the morning paper. The problem was, I didn’t want this little treat enough to actually walk down one floor to the bar for the extra ingredient. I mean, that would require brushing my hair, wiping the smeared mascara off my face and finding something more decent to wear than my floral pajama pants and tank top.

Pear nectar in the Dominican Republic

I recalled the mini-bar was, in fact, MINI in this place. We stocked the fridge full of bottled water, protein shakes we brought from home, a couple cans of diet coke and whatever else was on that shallow top shelf with the soda. I thought it was worth a look and, low and behold, I find a can of Pear Nectar whose label could have passed for a Sprite or Fresca at first glance. BINGO! Now this had some potential.

I popped that little puppy open and poured a couple tablespoons of the thick, sweet juice into my champagne glass. I tipped the glass and sipped the smooth, slightly sweet potion over my palate. Yummm! This was even better than a mimosa! The flavor of the champagne shined through bright and crisp, and the balance of the mellow fruit with the floral tones of the bubbly were just the right combination.

This is a drink I will be serving in the future! Might even be good option for a Christmas brunch or for houseguests over the upcoming New Year’s weekend. I have a feeling I can get the pear nectar at a local Mexican grocery if not at my neighborhood HyVee. You can garnish that baby with a little raspberry on the rim or maybe a chunck of pineapple and marachino cherry on a fancy toothpick.

It reminded me of a fantastic prosseco sangria I served at a friend’s baby shower this spring. It takes a little more prep time, but is worth the work. Homemade mint-infused simple syrup and seasonal fresh fruit are the highlight of this cutesy cocktail. Pack it up for your next picnic or serve on Saturday morning just for your family. (Note:  You may want to double or quadruple this recipe depending on your guest list.)

The thing to remember:  Just because you’ve never tried it before or read a recipe for it, doesn’t mean it won’t be fantastic. Use your imagination! A little champagne, or Perrier, or whatever you want to play with could be the base for your signature drink!

Champagne Sangria

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, 2008

Ingredients

  • 1 (750-ml) bottle Prosecco or French Champagne, chilled
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups Mint Simple Syrup, recipe follows
  • 1 lemon, zested and thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, zested and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 5 fresh mint sprigs
  • Crushed ice

Directions

In a large pitcher, combine the Prosecco, orange juice, Mint Simple Syrup, lemon zest, and lime zest. Add the sliced strawberries, lemon slices, lime slices, and mint sprigs.

 Fill glasses with crushed ice and pour the sangria over the top. Serve immediately.

Mint Simple Syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and mint over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool for 20 minutes. Strain before using.

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