Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Thirteen Guests with a Champagne Cocktail

I prefer to drink good Champagne as it comes, and definitely prefer not to drink poor quality Champagne, or sparkling wine, at all but the Champagne cocktail is a classic and it's my fathers birthday today (he seems to quite like them, though he's not such a fan of Champagne as I am) so it's a suitably celebratory drink to have in mind.

To make it you place a sugar lump in a champagne flute, add a drop or 2 of Angastoura bitters, cover the sugar cube with Brandy, and then top up with fizz*. Marischino cherry optional. It's definitely worth using a reasonable brandy for this (Courvoisier V.S or Martell V.S  would both be great). The less ingredients a coctail uses, the more you'll taste the individual components, and the more you'll know if you've skimped on them. This is not the place for the cooking brandy.

J. Jefferson Farjeon's 'Thirteen Guests' is set against the backdrop of a house party that been gathered together for a stag hunt. The guests include an actress, a journalist, an artist, a mystery novelist, a cricketer, a politician, a beautiful widow, and an industrialist. They also include the hapless John Foss who has ended up there quite by chance after an accident at the train station makes another guest take pity on him. Not quite part of the party, and stuck to a sofa, he gets to observe all sorts of things.

It's a brilliantly atmospheric book, with just the sort of setting, and guest list, where I feel the Cocktails would call for the discreetly decadent edge the Champagne gives this one.

*If you don't want to use Champagne I would suggest a good quality sparkling wine, either something from Australia or New Zealand (using the permitted Champagne grapes - Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Pinot Meunier and using Champagne method) or a cremant de Bourgogne. All should be a bit cheaper, or at least no more expensive, than a mediocre Champagne on some sort of special offer, and will be excellent. Prosecco and Cava use different grapes, they would make a perfectly good cocktail, but for this I feel it should be something that is at least all but identical to Champagne.

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