Raising a glass of something bubbly is a timeless way to end a year.
The act is innately celebratory, hopeful and a little nostalgic, and the bubbles themselves can take many forms: tiny and flashy, racing to the glass’s surface; big and bouncing across the tongue; delicate and softly sparkling. They can come from time-honored pours of Champagne or another sparkling wine, one that’s tart with acid, floral and honeyed, or simply flitting along, carrying the idea of sweetness. Or they can be from bubbling cocktails, less in step with strict holiday tradition but no less merrily effervescent.
The fizz is one such cocktail that feels festive and far from the Champagne flute. A 19th-century classic, it has a simple template: citrus, spirit, sweetener and seltzer — with the optional addition of an egg white, which helps trap air and form bubbles when shaken. It’s that egg white that gives the tart, gin-forward Midnight Fizz a spectacularly frothy head; a final splash of soda water makes it even more, well, fizzy.
Beer’s carbonation is another way to fashion a bubbly glass. In the To Wit, unfiltered, spiced witbier adds a sparkling top to an orangey drink fortified with Calvados and amaro.
But if you’re looking to dress up traditional bubbles, Julia Coney, a Washington, D.C.- and Houston-based wine writer and educator, keeps it simple, adding crème de cassis, grenadine or Lillet Rosé to Champagne for color and subtle flavor. Or you could easily prepare a classic cocktail that pairs Champagne with sugar and bitters. As the bitters-soaked sugar cube slowly and beautifully dissolves at the bottom of the glass, it sends up a steady stream of bubbles, and gradually skews the drink sweet-bitter.
When choosing Champagne or any sparkling wine, Ms. Coney emphasizes that a bottle should remain the same quality whether you plan to mix or pour it solo. “It all starts with ‘Can you drink it on its own before it’s a cocktail?’” she said. “Putting it in a cocktail isn’t going to make it any better.”
The pop of Champagne, prosecco or other fizzy drinks requires a salty snack. Ms. Coney often matches Champagne to a specific style or brand of chips.
“If you have really heavy acid, aggressive bubbles, you need Lay’s,” she said. “For a soft wine, you need Ruffles because they have less salt content.”
Spiced chips, Ms. Coney says, team up best with a bottle of demi-sec Champagne; kettle chips with blends; vegetable chips with rosé Champagne.
For a chip-based snack that pairs with any variety of bubbly drink and requires marginally more lift than pouring from bag to bowl, layer your choice of potato chips with cured meat (prosciutto, finocchiona or chorizo), craggy hunks of aged cheese (Parmesan, Gouda or Manchego) and something briny (olives, cornichons or guindilla peppers). Eat between sparkling sips.
And keep going. As Ms. Coney notes, you don’t need an occasion to pour some bubbles.
“Bubbles are an everyday drink,” she says.
With that philosophy in mind, raise a glass to toast the year’s end, the start of a new — and all the days that follow.
Recipes: Midnight Fizz | To Wit | Classic Champagne Cocktail
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