Sparkling cocktails

As we savor spring’s sweet kiss, greening grass and trees, eruptions of flowers both wild and garden-grown, our thoughts turn to sipping on the patio, picnicking in the park.

Sparkling wine cocktails are ideal for these joys—refreshing, low in alcohol, relatively easy to make.

Mimosa is best known: orange juice and sparkling wine. Vitamin C and spirit-lifting alcohol. Hard to beat, easy to make—although it is possible to make a mimosa mess.

Mimosa has three elements. First, good orange juice; store-bought works, fresh squeezed is better. Second, drinkable sparkling, which rules out André and other sparklings costing less than $10. Spend $12-20. Rule of thumb: if you don’t enjoy the sparkling straight, adding orange juice won’t make it taste better, it will make the orange juice taste worse. Third, pour OJ first, then add sparkling to preserve more fizz in finished drink.

Four more sparkling sparkling cocktails:

• Bellini. Use freshly made white peach pureé—do not use peach syrup. Place two ounces peach pureé in flute, top with three ounces of sparkling—prosecco is purist’s pour—stir, serve.
• Champagne cocktail. Place one sugar cube in a flute and soak it with two or three dashes of Angostura bitters. After the sugar has almost dissolved, fill with sparkling—real Champagne is the purist’s pour—top with lemon twist.
• Black velvet. Fill a flute halfway with sparkling wine, top with Guinness Stout. Legend says drink honors death of Prince Albert; band of golden white wine is topped with dark band similar to color worn at Albert’s funeral. Aficionados assert only Guinness is appropriate as the stout ingredient.
• French 75. Fill shaker with ice, add one ounce of gin, one-half ounce of lemon juice, one spoonful of powdered sugar. Shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a flute, top with sparkling, add lemon twist.

Tasting notes:
• Martini Prosecco NV: Value play ideal for Bellini cocktail. $12-15
• Gruet: Excellent New Mexico sparkling maker, several styles, priced in $16-18 range.
• Vilarnau Brut Reserva NV: Spanish cavas are great sparkling values; this is example. $17-19

Last round: Brunch without a sparkling wine cocktail is just a late, pathetically sad breakfast, especially on a weekend or while on vacation.