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A Classic Champagne Cocktail – and all about the magnum.
Do you have people on your Christmas list that you struggle to buy a present for? Well, The Magnum Company might just provide the perfect solution. Somehow, offering a bottle of wine, fizz, olive oil or even gin in a magnum size makes for a much more special present. I love the idea that The Magnum Company has a small, perfectly formed selection of products including several excellent quality champagnes and sparkling wines. And, if you’ve got your hands on a magnum of champagne, well, one way to make it even more special is to create a classic Champagne Cocktail. Did you know the classic champagne cocktail is what Humphrey Bogart was drinking when he uttered those immortal words in Casablanca ‘ Here’s Looking at You, Kid’.
Wiki tells us that a recipe for the Champagne Cocktailappears in Jerry Thomas’ Bon Vivant’s Companion (1862), though this version omits the brandy or cognac. There are also versions in a number of cookery books and cocktail manuals around that period – even Mrs Beeton had her own Champagne Cocktail recipe which included brandy, sugar and borage. She happily wrote that it was ‘suitable for picnics, balls, wedding, and other festive occasions. ‘
Did you know that in the case of wine, size really does matter.
In the words of Winston Churchill
‘A magnum is the perfect size for 2 gentlemen to share over lunch…especially if one of them isn’t drinking’.
But more than that, with sparkling wines made using methode traditionnelle (the way all champagne and many top-quality sparkling wines are made) there’s a real benefit to the magnum format. For a start, the bottles are still hand riddled (the turning process to make the lees or yeast settle) because the mechanisation can’t cope with larger bottle formats. Secondly, many wine specialists believe that The Magnum bottle will produce superior champagne because the lees and the air at the top of the bottle comes in contact with less of the wine.
With The Magnum Company, you have a choice of five different champagnes, a magnum of Nyetimber or even one of English cyder made using methode traditionnelle.
Or, for something a little different, there are wines, port, sherry and even olive oil. It’s the kind of gift that will really impress.
My own personal choice from The Magnum Company is Pol Roger. As it happens, rather famously, that was Churchill’s own favourite champagne. Pol Roger Brut Réserve is made with thirty still base wines, drawn across at least three vintages and with the three most commonly used Champagne grapes in almost equal quantities. It’s classic champagne, with a 9g dosage and with notes of bright white flowers and green apple fading to a toasty brioche and rich minerality. For me, it’s a great aperitif and also perfect with white fish – turbot or halibut for example. Never released until it is at least three years old, it has Chardonnay from Epernay and the Cote des Blancs, Pinot Noir from the villages around the Montagne de Reims and Pinot Meunier comes from the Vallée de la Marne.
What would you do with a Magnum of Champagne? As I said earlier, I’d recommend trying a classic Champagne cocktail if you want something special for Christmas – here’s how to do it.
The classic Champagne Cocktail is a simple, elegant way to serve champagne or sparkling wine
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 15 ml Cognac
- 75 ml Champagne
- 1 sugar cube
- 1/4 fine slice orange or an orange peel twist
- 1 Maraschino cherry
- Add a dash of Angostura bitter onto the sugar cube and place carefully in the bottom of a champagne flute.
- Pour over the cognac
- Top up with chilled champagne.
- Garnish with orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
Don’t you think it’s just the perfect cocktail for Christmas? Do try making a champagne cocktail yourself for Christmas this year.