Sometimes you just can’t decide between a martini and a Malbec. What to do? Opt for a wine cocktail. While this term technically encompasses Champagne cocktails and pitchers of Sangria, clever mixologists all over the country are mixing wine with spirits, juices, bitters and syrups to create balanced, complex drinks. Confused cocktailians torn between grape and grain may find that mixing up a wine cocktail is just right.
At New York’s PDT (13 St. Marks Pl.; 212.614.0386), renowned for its well-crafted, classic cocktails, owner Jim Meehan incorporates at least one wine cocktail into the menu each season, and he reaches for bottles that haven’t spent time in new wood. “Oak is not a flavor profile I’m looking to showcase in my cocktails,” he explains. His potent Against All Odds Cocktail combines Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur and Clement Créole Schrubb with Chardonnay. Drinks like these tend to have a smaller niche than more fruit-forward options, like the Riesling- and pear brandy-based Falling Leaves, a concoction by another Manhattan-based cocktail master, Audrey Saunders.
Easter Egg Hunt
Courtesy of Bradley Dawson, Belly Timber, Portland, OR
3 oz. Spanish Verdejo
1 oz. Hendricks or 12 Bridges Gin
½ oz. Simple syrup
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
Lemon twist for garnish.
Stir gently in large flute or trumpet glass. Serve with a large lemon twist.
Courtesy of Robert Heugel, Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston, TX
1½ oz. Bourbon
1 oz. rosé
¾ oz. Lemon juice
½ oz. Cabernet Sauvignon simple syrup (reduce equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and sugar with cinnamon sticks.)
Lemon wedge and cinnamon stick (for garnish)
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with club soda, and garnish with a lemon wedge and cinnamon stick.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirit writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, http://trywine.net/.