Here’s my interpretation of a drink I had while traveling a few years ago. After a hectic day of suffering though mass transportation and shopping for gifts, I found myself in a nice lounge in the high-rent district, fully prepared to unwind with some drinks. As a prelude to something more serious, I decided to try a cocktail made with vodka, sparkling wine, and Chambourd, a French liqueur made from black raspberries and herbs. And goddamnit if it didn’t taste good! Once I returned stateside from traveling I was determined to reverse-engineer the recipe. I think it turned out as good, if not better than the original.
This recipe is fairly precise in that you ABSOLUTELY must use Chambourd, a decent vodka, a mediocre sparkling wine, and lemon juice (oddly enough, the lemon is a crucial ingredient) in my exact proportions. And although Chambourd is EXPENSIVE ($35/bottle), it’s fairly intense – so a little is all you need for most drinks. Unless you’re having cocktail parties on a weekly basis, that bottle’s gonna stick around for a bit. I made the investment thinking that I could pass on the remainder of the bottle to my grandchildren. As far as the vodka is concerned the Chambourd, sparkling wine, and lemon juice should kill any harshness – but stay away from anything in a plastic bottle, or anything with “WILD” in its name or a feral animal on the label. I used Skyy and was very happy with the results.
Sparkling wine. I’m not calling it Champagne because only wines from Champagne, France that meet certain restrictions can be called Champagne, and are therefore very pricey. All that’s required for this drink is a sparkling wine made in the Champagne style, unless you’re looking to kill some leftovers from New Year’s Eve. Just stay away from the sweeter varieties; most Brut or Extra-Dry types will do (between the two, Brut is the dryer, but Extra-Dry is by no means sweet). You really need a dry sparkling wine in this case – Champagne or not – to really make this work; something as sweet as an Asti Spumanti will ruin the drink. I used an extra-dry Cava and it did the job just fine. Your local wine and spirits shop should yield a wallet friendly candidate. In short, no Champale.