Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Celebrate the holiday season
with Sparkling Ginger Cocktails

With the season of holiday parties now in full swing, it’s time for festive cocktails to be shown off at their sparkling best.
   This time of year, I like serving cocktails that contain champagne, sparkling wine or Prosecco. They have an air of sophistication and fun that I think fits a holiday party best.
   Sparkling Ginger Cocktails (click for the recipe) from Gourmet magazine fit this description perfectly. Each one is a lovely pale yellow color, with a sugared rim that makes one think of soft, powdered snow.
   There’s a bonus with this recipe, too.
   Not only does the ginger syrup made for the recipe combine with Prosecco to make a fab cocktail, it can also be combined with club soda for a great mocktail that tastes leagues above the average ginger ale.
   Some of the reviewers of this recipe on the website complained of trouble making the ginger sugar that’s put on the serving glasses’ rims.
   I didn’t have any trouble at all. The recipe calls for crystallized ginger, the kind that can be found in any bulk foods store or bulk foods section of the supermarket. I ground the pieces up in a mini-chopper, rather than the blender or food processor mentioned in the recipe. There were some larger grains of crystallized ginger among the smaller ones, but it wasn’t a problem. I then put sugar into the mini-chopper with the crystallized ginger and ground it up again.
   The ginger sugar stayed perfectly on the rims of the glasses, which had been wet with lemon juice from a lemon wedge. I used wine glasses to serve the cocktail, by the way, but wide-mouthed champagne glasses or even a martini glasses would also work.
   If making the ginger sugar seems like too much trouble, simply putting sugar on the rims of the serving glasses is also nice too. I recommend using superfine or berry sugar, however, since it’s not going to be ground in a chopper.
   Water, sliced fresh ginger, and sugar are simmered in a small saucepan for about 10 minutes, then the liquid is removed from the heat and left to steep for 15 minutes. The syrup is strained through a sieve into a bowl, and the solids discarded. The syrup is refrigerated until cold.
   The rims of glasses are sugared, one tablespoon of the ginger syrup is put in each, then Prosecco is poured in. I stirred each cocktail to make sure the syrup blended well with the Prosecco, even though the recipe doesn't say to do this.
   I estimate I used about ½ cup Prosecco for every one tablespoon of syrup, but you can taste away until you find the flavor combination you like.
   For the mocktails, I used about two tablespoons of syrup with about ¾ cup of club soda. Make sure to serve the non-alcoholic version on ice!

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