Though we never really had a winter, spring is definitely in the air with baby birds hatching, trees budding, tulips and iris’ filling gardens throughout the city, and menus getting lighter, fresher and greener. To pair with these lightened up menus look no further than at the fresh herbs or the fruit aisle at your local market for inspiration, or simply pop open an always delicious bottle of bubbly, both will do the trick to get you in the springtime mood. Here are a few ideas, some selections were sent for editorial consideration.
Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Cremant, Sparkling Wine….whichever you prefer, a bubble is always the perfect aperitif or accompaniment to any menu, enjoyed from morning to night, especially when you find a low alcohol one that allows easy consumption from morning into the night.
I was recently invited and traveled to Spain with Segura Viudas for a full scale immersion into the world of making Cava (more on this to come) and found the crisp, dry Brut Cava to be an ideal accompaniment to anything from grilled spring onions, baby artichokes and white asparagus, to fresh green pea soup, to a simple snack of olives, almonds and lots of shaved Iberico ham.
If you are more of a traditional Champagne fan, but want to save a few dollars, head west to Napa Valley and enjoy a glass of Domaine Chandon Sparkling Wine. With Moet and Chandon Champagne roots and a dedication to creating the best sparklers in Napa from Champagne’s varietals of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, while using the méthode traditionnelle style, Chandon has become known for producing light, approachable and consistently delicious Sparkling Wine. Chandon Blanc de Noir blends Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier together for a bubbly with big red fruit flavors. Bing cherry, ripe strawberry and raspberry leap from each glass of this light pink sparkler, giving it a full flavor while maintaining a dry flavor profile expected with a Brut wine.
If nothing but Champagne will do, go big and classic with the France’s oldest Champagne house, Ruinart. Established in 1729 this Champagne house defines itself by not only their Crayeres, or chalk cellars their bubbly is aged in, but also their dedication to the Chardonnay grape as the foundation for all of their exquisite Champagnes. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs uses 100% of this luxurious grape to create a fresh, vibrant, well rounded sparkler filled with white flowers and orange blossoms, ripe lemon and nectarine, with subtle melon and mineral notes on the finish. Elegant and refreshing, a wonderful accompaniment to grilled seafood, poached shellfish or roast chicken with a creamy lemon sauce.
Cocktails more your preference? Embrace fresh flavors like St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, bold licorice in Molinari Sambuca, fresh herbal and floral notes in small batch produced Gin like Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin and Caorunn Scottish Gin.
Fresh mint marries with more than just rum and tequila, it is simply delicious with Sambuca’s intense black licorice flavors as well. Molinari Sambuca is one of Italy’s most popular liqueurs, with fresh anise flavors that are as delicious mixed into cocktails as it is sipped neat with three coffee beans (it is bad luck to have any more or any less in Sambuca). The Molijito puts a licorice twist on the classic mojito.
2 oz Molinari Sambuca Extra
1 oz lime juice
2-3 teaspoons of cane sugar
3 oz club soda
Directions: Shake with ice and serve.
Gin has taken hold as the “it” spirit in Spain right now, with some bars featuring 50 or more different kinds, mixed with interesting flavored tonics, herbs and fruit combinations. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin from Holland starts with herbal, floral notes which then lead into ripe stone fruit flavors, finishing very dry. Delicious served simply, shaken over ice and served up in a martini glass with a single lemon twist for a Nolet’s Silver Martini; or combine a bit of St. Germain and freshly squeezed lemonade with the Nolet’s for a delicious twist on a Tom Collins.
Nolet’s Silver Lemon Collins
1 oz. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin
4 oz. Fresh Lemonade
.50 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
.50 oz. Simple Syrup
Directions: Stir ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into a Collins glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
Can’t decide between a cocktail or Champagne? Combine the best of both worlds by adding a bit of St. Germain or Domaine de Canton with your favorite bubbly for a delicious, refreshing burst of flavor.
If all these spring cocktail ideas have you in the mood for a spring meal, Capital Grille just launched the spring menu for their quick and delicious “Plates” lunch, and this one is considerably lighter than their winter fare. With selections like Asparagus Soup, Shrimp and Piquillo Peppers with Crisp Bomba Rice and Grilled Spring Vegetables, served within an hour to get guests in and out in a perfect lunch hour. The spring menu includes nine “plates” offerings – soup or salad, sandwich and a side for $18. Bonus, if you aren’t in a rush, sip the delicious signature Stoli Doli, Capital Grille’s pineapple vodka infused martini as you enjoy a leisurely lunch.