It’s soon to be the New Year, and that, of course, means lots and lots of Champagne and sparkling wine will be poured down the eager throats of people everywhere who wish to either celebrate a successful 2015, or in anticipation of a much better year ahead.
We’ve covered Champagne cocktails before, but there are so many other ways to serve sparkling wine. And one method of seeing sparkling wine that’s rarely discussed by cocktail writers is serving it straight up… with a bit of flair.
If you’ve got a big group of celebrants to serve, there are fewer things more celebratory (save for the sabrage) than a good old fashioned Champagne Fountain. As midnight approaches, a cascading tower of glasses full of bubbles can really get the room into the spirit of the hour. And I say that it’s time to bring this tradition back. Here’s how it’s done.
I always start with a base. This is a potentially very messy operation, and I’d rather not ruin my floors or spend a half hour mopping up a bunch of wine. So I always start the proceedings with a rimmed baking sheet, the kind you’d find at a restaurant supply store. If you’ve got an old, warped model at home, I’d say that this would be a good time to spend the twelve dollars on a new one.
While you’re at the restaurant supply place, I’d recommend picking up some Libbey 5.5 oz. Embassy Champagne Coupes. A case of 36 will make a nice tower for thirty folks, with a few left over in case of breakage. And you know those friends of yours will probably break a few.
Anyway, start with a four-by-four grid of glasses directly in the rimmed baking sheet on a level surface. The more attentive you are to making sure those glasses are lined up perfectly, the better this is going to be. Once that’s complete, commence with a three-by three grid centered on top of the base, and then a two-by-two, and so on. What you should be looking at in the end is a perfect pyramid of glassware with a single glass on top.
Now the show begins: Slowly pour, into that top glass, a slow and steady stream of bottle after bottle of Champagne (props to you if you’re using magnums as I do), and let your guests watch in delight as every glass is slowly filled from the top down, until every glass is full of Champagne. If you time this right, you can be finishing up as the clock strikes midnight.
And that’s all there is to it. It’s simple, it’s impressive, and it’s almost guaranteed to get someone to kiss you when you’re done.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.
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