Did you know that you tend to get drunk faster on champagne than with most other alcoholic beverages? It’s true. I read it in Cosmo once. Something about the oxygenated bubbles causing the alcohol to go to your brain quicker. I think that’s what it said, at least. I find, personally, that I’m a bit more fun with a smidge of champagne in my system. But, “Fun Marta” quickly dissolves into “Broodingly-sobbing-in-her-flute-because-her-modeling-career-didn’t-work-out-Marta”, so I have to drink in moderation. Whatevs. Since we all have New Year’s Eve kisses, and parties, to plan, let’s get right into how to make this Pomegranate-Rosemary Sparkler.
The key to making a great cocktail is using ingredients that you would drink on their own. While I get that money can be tight, and if it is tight, buying alcohol is not very “adult-y”; buy the best alcohol you can on your budget. Champagne connoisseurs would probably laugh at my choice of champagne, but I love the stuff. Veuve Clicquot became my go-to bubbly of choice when the Soldier got a two dollar pay raise five years ago. I mean, hell! We’re filthy rich, we may as well ball out, amiright?!? Yeah. I am. But, the fact that Dom P has only crossed my lips a handful of times makes it clear that I’m a frugal champagne shopper.
To maintain my humble roots, I’m using the Yellow Label VC, which is their entry-level champagne. It cost, on average, $45 a bottle, so I think it’s an accessible brand for everyone. Surely you can splurge for NYE, right? If you choose to show off and go for one of the higher-end champagnes, bear in mind that at some point it becomes a waste. We are mixing it, after all. I would say avoiding the rank “sparkling malt liquors” is my main point. After the age of 22, it’s just not right to ingest that stuff.
Besides the Veuve C, I’m using my favorite gin: Hendrick’s. You’ve seen this rose petal-based libation in such recipes as my Gin-Rickey Sorbet. This gin is legit. I won’t drink any other brand and have been called a snob because I looked down my nose at another that was offered to me just last week. Sure, I honed my drinking palate on high-class drinks like Mad Dog 20/20 and Boone’s Farm. That’s neither here, nor there, though. Remember? Two dollar raise?!? Huh-loooow!! I have status now.
Let’s get into this cocktail. To start with: we need to extract the pomegranate arils from the fruit. To do this, you need only to cut the pomegranate in half with a chef’s knife.
Use a cutting board that you’re not worried about staining because pomegranate juice is notorious for stains. Even if you aren’t concerned about the staining, be sure to wipe up any juice that spills to prevent an exorbitant amount of spots on your cutting board.
Once you cut open your pomegranate, take one half and flip it (seeds down) over a large bowl. Now, take a heavy spoon and whack it on the back in a clock-wise motion. This will loosen up the white membrane that holds the arils in their clusters.
It should create a flat spot as shown in the image above.
Use your hand to massage the pomegranate so it releases the remaining arils. Be sure to keep the fruit downward so the juice and seeds go into the bowl and not on to your countertop or cutting board.
You should have an empty shell of pomegranate when you’re done. If you have some hangers-on, just pluck them out with your fingers. Be sure to remove any membrane fragments that may have come out with the arils. They’re not bad for you, they just don’t have any purpose in our cocktail- and they look gross.
Transfer the arils to a serving bowl. I like to use a dessert coupe . Set this aside to add to our cocktails later.
The pomegranate-rosemary portion of this libation is found in the gin-based pomegranate simple syrup. That’s a mouthful. A simple syrup is nothing but a liquid sweetener. Combine equal parts sugar and liquid, and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar crystals. It sounds a lot more intense than it truly is. That’s why brands bottle simple syrups and sell them for exorbitant amounts of money. Dude. Sugar and water with flavoring. You can totes do that yourself. And you should.
Pour the sugar into a small saucepan.
Add the gin. Yes, the bottle is completely tipped up. Yes, I drank it all. No, it wasn’t all at once. Stop judging. (plus, I have another bottle ready to go)
Now, add your pomegranate juice. I like using Pom, but use whichever one you prefer. Stir the mixture together.
When you add the rosemary to the pot, be sure to pinch and squeeze the rosemary leaves before adding. This bruising of the herb releases the oils that give the flavor we’re looking for in this syrup.
Give it a stir and bring the mixture to a boil over med-high heat. Do not attempt to “sniff” the mixture as it is boiling. It will burn your nose and your eyes…or, so I heard from a close friend of mine.
Once the liquid begins to boil, stir it again to make sure the sugar crystals have dissolved. It should feel and sound smooth when you stir it. If it grinds or you feel grit when stirring, continue cooking a little bit longer. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, remove the pot from the stove and allow the syrup to cool. Leave the rosemary in the syrup so it can steep as the mixture cools.
Fit a smaller strainer into a funnel and place the funnel over a carafe or glass jar. Pour the mixture into the strainer to fill the jar. Cover with a lid. This simple syrup will keep at room temperature for two weeks.
To make our cocktail, add a spoonful of pomegranate arils to a champagne glass. The amount of arils depends on how much you like the fruit. I’m a huge fan of the crunch, so I add a heaping spoonful. My hubby doesn’t love pomegranate arils, so he gets less. You can also omit them altogether and just use the simple syrup to get all of your pom-goodness. Here I’m using champagne coupes because of the pomegranate arils. It’s easier to get at them in coupes. If you have flutes, feel free to use those.
Now add about a tbsp and a half of the simple syrup to each glass. This is another “make-it-how-you-like-it” deal. If you want a sweeter cocktail, add more of the simple syrup. If you want it to be less sweet, just add a tbsp.
Take a one inch stem of fresh rosemary and bruise it by pinching between your fingers. Add it to the glasses. You can also omit this as you’ll have the rosemary flavor from the simple syrup. I like adding it because it looks beautiful and gives an extra oomph of herbaceous flavor.
Now it’s time for either the funnest, or most petrifying, part of the cocktail preparation. Opening the champagne can be slightly intimidating. Following these simple steps should take a bit of the stress away, though. First, remove the foil wrapping.
Keeping your thumb on top of the cork, loosen the wire cage which holds the cork in place. Don’t remove the cage just yet, though.
Take a kitchen towel and wrap it around the cork; this will keep the cork from flying and shooting someone’s eye out (name that movie).
Now just grip the cork with your dominant hand, and the bottle with your non-dominant, then twist the bottle while gently pushing up on the cork. Done!
Float your champagne into the glass and give a gentle swirl with another rosemary stem.
Toast to a great 2018 and pin this recipe for your NYE party!
I wish you the happiest and healthiest year yet! Happy New Year from Sense & Edibility to you!
Yield 12 cocktails
A gin-based simple syrup amps up this festive pomegranate libation.
2 pomegranates, arils removed (see post)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup gin
1/2 pomegranate juice
4 rosemary stalks
1 bottle good-quality champagne, chilled
fresh rosemary to garnish
- Place the pomegranate arils into a serving dish and set aside.
- Over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, gin, and pomegranate juice in a medium-size saucepan.
- Add the rosemary stalks after pinching and twisting each between your fingers to release the essential oils.
- Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pot from the stove and allow to cool completely. Leave the rosemary in the liquid to allow it to steep.
- Strain the simple syrup into a carafe, or glass jar, and set aside until ready to use.
- Spoon a tbsp, or two, of the pomegranate arils into a champagne coupe, or flute.
- Pour a tbsp and a half, or two (depending on how sweet you like your cocktail), of the simple syrup into the glass. Pour the champagne over the syrup to fill to the rim.
- Bruise a stem of rosemary by pinching it between your fingers. Use it to gently stir the cocktail before garnishing the glass with the stem.