Adding a fine spritz in a drink is a marvelous thing, a centuries old practice. Today, however, mixologists and bar chefs no longer think in terms of committing a splash of club soda to a cocktail. Mere carbonation is passé, now it’s about adding quality effervescence. Spritz helps achieve all-important balance between the various elements in a cocktail. It enhances a drink’s mouth feel and most importantly, effervescence energizes a libation, transforming it from flat and lifeless to teeming with vibrancy and pizzazz.
One thing you can do to immediately improve your drink making abilities is look beyond using carbonated water from the beverage gun. Artificially charged water created on-site can hardly compare to the natural effervescence of sparkling waters, source derived products like San Pellegrino, Perrier, or Ramlösa. These famous waters have an abundance of fine bubbles and mild acidity that invigorates a cocktail. Club soda can’t begin to measure up.
There are a growing number of interesting ingredients that mixologists are using to imbue their drinks with effervescence and panache. So put down the siphon bottle and consider your options.
The Classic Sparkler
Champagne-laced cocktails are light, effervescent and exceptionally delicious. For example, the World Bar in Manhattan promotes a classy signature dubbed the World Cocktail. It’s concocted with Remy Martin X.O Cognac, white grape juice, bitters and Pineau des Charentes. The drink is hand shaken, strained into a chilled glass and filled with Veuve Cliquot Champagne.
At Harry Denton’s Starlight Room in San Francisco one of the headline attractions is a sensational specialty drink called Drinking the Stars, a luxurious combination of Dom Perignon Champagne and 1979 Chateau Ravignan Bas Armagnac that has been infused with Madagascar vanilla, black raisins and an orange.
The Flirtini at Manhattan’s Stone Rose Lounge pairs Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka, pineapple juice and Champagne, while the French 59 at Brasserie Jo in Chicago is made with Tanqueray Gin, Massenez Créme de Gingembre liqueur, fresh lemon sour mix and a fill with Cremant d’Alsace Brut. The Platinum Apricot Bellini is a sensational cocktail concocted using Patrón Gran Platinum Tequila, apricot puree and J Sparkling Brut from Jordan Vineyards.
Although celebrated, Champagne is not the only variety of sparkling wine that can be used in the construction of this style of cocktail. What’s important to note is that when you change the flavor and character of the sparkling wine in a cocktail, the resulting cocktail is creatively altered as well.
American sparkling wines have steadily increased in renown and popularity. These wines are made from premium varietal grapes in a similar manner to Champagne. Also popular is Prosecco, a delicious sparkling wine made north of Venice in the Veneto region of Italy.
Brasserie Jo in Chicago serves a cocktail dubbed the Apple Sour, which is made with Daron Calvados and Bel Normande Sparkling Cider, while their cocktail April in Paris is finished with Klipfel Cremant d’Alsace Brut.
Ginger beers are a non-alcohol fermented brew flavored principally with ginger, lemon and sugar. It is also gloriously effervescent and a delight to use in preparing cocktails. At Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, the Yerba Buena is a popular signature drink featuring muddled mint leaves, lime juice, falernum, Corazon Silver Tequila and topped with Stewart’s Ginger Beer.
The Few, The Proud
Few carbonated beverages have more contemporary appeal than energized Red Bull, making it a frequently relied on behind the bar to give a cocktail a shot of flavor and effervescence. Hard ciders, sparkling lemonade ales, lagers and ales are all highly advantageous featured in cocktails.
Profiting With Mineral Waters
Don’t let their simplicity fool you. Bottled mineral waters comprise one of the fastest growing segments of the beverage industry, and simplicity perhaps best explains their ever-expanding popularity. These waters have a clean, unassuming flavor and are bottled at their source—pristine and uncompromised with no additives, no calories and no warning labels. This is one beverage trend easily fathomed.
One of the mystiques of mineral waters involves its origins. Rain and melted snow percolate through permeable soil and rock, leaching various minerals in the process. The water filters down until stopped deep underground by strata of impervious rock, a trek that can take 20 to 30 years. Varying amounts of minerals endow each particular water with different tastes and characteristics and in many instances these differences are quite pronounced.
Perrier is an incomparable example of a naturally carbonated, highly effervescent water. The famed Italian San Pellegrino has fine, elegant bubbles, is mild acidity and moderately effervescent. Swedish Ramlösa is a lightly carbonated water, while Acqua Panna and Evian are pristine and still.
The sources for most mineral waters are deep subterranean artesian aquifers, porous water-bearing rock. Tremendous pressure forces water to rise through fissures in the surrounding geological formations. Constant temperature and chemical composition assure purity, while capping the source prevents outside contamination.
As the median age in this country rises, bars and restaurants will continue to cater to a steadily aging clientele. Meeting their needs and wants is simply good business. Mineral waters offer singular advantages few other products sold at the bar are capable of.
Mineral waters can be marketed in much the same way varietal wines are, relying heavily on server familiarity. A horizontal tasting is an excellent method of acquainting servers with the characteristics of the various mineral waters.
Minerals waters are best served chilled. When warm, the carbonation in the water may prove too active and vigorous. For those patrons who want mineral water served with ice, the use of cubes made with tap water is rather self-defeating.