Summer is almost over, and with it the glorious bounty of summer fruits.
I would be remiss if I didn't urge you to immediately splurge on some luscious stone fruits, sweet berries or tart cherries.
My youngest child, Sam, has bitten into a ripe pluot and said to me, "How can you taste this and not believe in God?"
No doubt there is something otherworldly about the taste and texture of perfectly sweet and ripe fruits.
"Come quickly, I am tasting the stars," is the quote attributed to Dom Perignon, when he discovered Champagne.
Though we now know this likely came from an ad rather than the monk's lips, it still resonates when we think of Champagne.
Champagne, like perfectly ripe fruit, is otherworldly. What could possibly be better than to combine the two?
And don't let the fact that Champagne can be pricey deter you. There are plenty of sparkling wines now available from all around the world. Starting at around five dollars a bottle, there is something for every budget.
There is also a wide range of sweetnesses available, so be sure to read the labels before you buy.
I like my Champagne and sparkling wine very dry, but I have friends who will only drink super sweet cocktails.
By beginning with something dry, you can always add simple syrup, honey or agave as desired.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Blueberry Champagne Smash
1 tablespoon maraschino liqueur (such as Luxardo)
1 teaspoon honey
3 basil leaves, torn
4 ounces Champagne or sparkling wine
Fill a small glass with crushed ice. Muddle maraschino liqueur, blueberries, honey and basil. Pour into the iced glass. Top with Champagne or sparkling wine.
Below are some gorgeous Rainier cherries bathing in sparkling wine. No more, no less.
If you've never had Rainier cherries, run and get some before they are gone. Look for fruits that are bright yellow with a blush of pink.
Georgia peaches make magnificent pies, cobblers, tarts and bellinis. They also make a divine addition to your bubbly with a little Peach Schnapps.
1/2 cup very cold peach slices
1 tablespoon Peach Schnapps
4 ounces Chilled Champagne or sparkling wine
Add peach slices to a chilled glass. Top with ice. Add Schnapps and Champagne. Garnish with a peach slice if desired.
* If you like your drinks sweet, mix a teaspoon or two of honey with the Schnapps until dissolved.
Some scholars hypothesize that figs were the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
Though I might argue that the Flavor King pluot holds that honor, Black Mission figs come close.
1 large ripe Black Mission fig, quartered
1 ounce amaretto
3 ounces Champagne or sparkling wine
Add the fig and amaretto to a chilled Champagne flute or coupe. Top with Champagne or sparkling wine.
For years I've noticed gooseberries at the supermarket during the summer, though I've never purchased them.
They show up during the height of blackberry season. Picking wild blackberries as a child left me enamored of this black and beautiful fruit.
The appearance of waxy yellow gooseberries paled in comparison.
Then I saw gooseberries as a basket ingredient on Chopped, and knew I'd have to give them a try
More tart than sweet, they are not a berry I'd want to continue eating on their own.
But pair them with a little sugar, some elderflower liqueur and Champagne, and I will drink them all day long.
This drink would be a fantastic flip on your standard, Sunday mimosa. (Not that there's anything wrong with mimosas.)
It would also be a great happy hour cocktail. Add a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano , some pistachios or Casellvetrano olives and you have a party.
1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1 tablespoon simple syrup
3 ounces Champagne or sparkling wine
Muddle gooseberries with the St. Germain and simple syrup. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute or coupe. Top with chilled Champagne or sparkling wine.
Garnish with additional gooseberries, if desired.