Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Champange Cocktails: Rites, Rituals, and Habits, Visited

I was obligated to make notes on the margaritas because they were fresh in my mind. I know very well they are not my favorite cocktail, not even the one I find most intriguing (a post for another day). That is a place of honor reserved for The Revered One. The one all pretty hands should hold, Cosmopolitan's be gone.

This is a memoir of the Chambord champagne cocktail.

Say the words champagne cocktail words in any fine establishment and you can be met with any combination of disastrous results. The person making this drink these days might ask probing questions: Where are you from? How old are you? And if not able to pinpoint your preferences therein: How do like it? Why I just read a blog by someone contending a Mimosa is a champagne cocktail. Indeed, and in fact, it is, but it is not The One, nor is it the Champagne Cocktail, nor, is it the Kir Royale (all bow to another great).

I like it with champagne and Chambord, and maybe a tiny sugar cube. I do not like it with Angostura bitters, lemon, orange, God only knows what else - brandy? triple sec? Until recently, I was unaware mixology had taken these liberties with The One, but I beg of you, put down the pour spouts and step away from the champagne. I assure you, you are needed somewhere, just not here, in front of me. Surely, Mesa Grill needs you, someone there invented the Cactus Pear Margarita (I know, I know, enough already). But I so rarely get to have a champagne cocktail, no need to adulterate it, or fuss. Maybe it seems like thing for girls who like a fuss, can tolerate some tinkering, like to their drinks to be moved along in contemporary mores. But, it is not.

This drink should be hazily twinkling in a tone of light lavender. It should rise in a long, elegant slip of a glass. It slides up next to you, and you are suddenly reminded of places you have never been but loved anyhow: Big band orchestras, Elaine's, opening night at The Met. Who knows. It could remind of anything grand and celebratory. I am not alone in this sensation, two weeks ago I watched a bartender at Lexington Avenue Cafe in Mt. Kisco, New York make one with such reverence and attention to detail, it was if he had cut and placed the Hope Diamond upon his gleaming bar. He understands what I have to tell you: The simplest, clearest things are those we need guard most fiercely.

Just leave me the Tattinger, if you please, and a tiny bit of Chambord. Leave me the old rooms where I have found it and they have maintained it: Crabtree's Kittle House, Mt. Kisco, New York, The Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C., Bemelman's at the Carlyle, New York. Keep all your new twists, both literal and figurative
for the Hibiscus moments in all of our souls, that is a good drink too, but for another, less nostalgic day of the heart.

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