Summer Bubbles

It has been said that women are endowed with an innate ability to drink copious amounts of champagne without feeling any of the side effects. Well if that's a condition, then I'm pleased to say I have it. From Italy's prosecco and Spain's cava to vintage champagne, few things make me as happy as a tall, swank glass of bubbly (make mine rosé!). Using sparkling wine as a mixer can give a drink complexity and elegance and still produce those beautiful bubbles trailing up the sides of the glass. As we move into the summer season, more bars are popping the cork on inventive bubbly drinks to suit sipping on the longer sun-filled days. "Anyone who is willing to give [champagne-based drinks] a try will be pleasantly surprised," says Quentin Ertel, general manager at Belltown's Viceroy. "Champagne goes with everything." The bar features the Gardenia ($8), made with Mionetto Il Prosecco and a chilled shot of Grand Marnier. Sparkling wine "lifts the flavors [in a drink]," says Lindsey Norton, general manager of the new downtown restaurant 94 Stewart. "Without it, it's flat." She uses Segura Viudas Spanish cava (for its "great price and excellent flavor") and strawberry nectar for her restaurant's Carnivale ($7). "Most people find sparking wine refreshing, and they like the bubbly feel on the palate," says Ken Stubblefield, bar manager at Nectar in Freemont. The Lenin's Duck ($7), made with Gloria Ferrer California sparkling wine, Stoli Razberi, and Chambord, is a featured drink. The addition of sparkling wine gives drinks "a sharpness, acidity, and a little bit of sweetness," Stubblefield says. He also believes that "the sparkling wine–based cocktail trend may not have taken off as quickly here as in other cities, perhaps due to "the weather. We are very seasonal. Champagne comes back when we get closer to summer." That's a shame: Norton has one simple blanket bit of advice: "Drink more bubbles, it makes everyone happy."

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