Simone FM Spinner, Contributing Writer
Portions of this articles were previously featured on Beverage Trade Network Media Assets.
We find both wine and cocktails at the center of so many of our festivities. Savvy bartenders and home mixologists are turning to wine as a base for delicious and thematic drinks to marry the two. Wine cocktails often make an appearance at brunch as often as they do at cocktail hour. Here are 16 luscious and rich wine cocktails perfect for any occasion.
Sparkling Wine Cocktails
Classic Kir Royale
Crème de cassis is a sweet French liqueur made from black currants. The kir is a classic, flavored with crème de cassis and brut sparkling wine, making it a perfect wine cocktail to serve at a casual cocktail party.
- 1/4 oz crème de cassis liqueur, natural is best
- 5 oz brut sparkling wine chilled
Blend in a chilled martini or white wine glass.
The French 75 is reminiscent of post-World War Europe and the lingering Golden Age. Named after the French military’s M1897 rapid-fire 75mm artillery gun. It is bright, citrusy, and vibrant with bubbles and a mysterious smokeyness from the Cognac. Made famous by the Stork Club in New York City, the French 75 endures as a perennial favorite.
- 1 to 2 oz gin, or cognac, to taste
- 1 teaspoon simple syrup
- 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 oz Champagne
- Lemon twist, for garnish
Pour the gin or cognac, simple syrup, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well to blend. Strain into a champagne flute or white wine glass half-filled with crushed ice. Fill with Champagne or Cava Garnish with a lemon twist
Use a delicately aromatic gin to add body and flavor to this cocktail without overpowering the Champagne or Cava. The Saint Florent is a gorgeous dessert cocktail.
- 6 oz of gin
- 1 oz of honey syrup (1 ounce of honey dissolved in 1 ounce of hot water)
- 2 oz each of bittersweet Cappelletti liqueur, Angostura bitters, and Champagne
Dissolve the honey in hot water and add to an ice-filled shaker. Add remaining ingredients and shake for half a minute before straining into glasses. Add the champagne and garnish with lime slices.
The floral Simone Cocktail transports you back to the glitz and glimmering beauty of the Belle Époque era in Paris. Crystallized violets, created in Toulouse, France in 1856, are very rare. La Violeta was founded in 1915 in Madrid and still produces highly-prized, culinary candied violets. Float a few on the sparkling surface of this lovely cocktail.
- 1 oz Crème de Violette
- 1 oz St. Germain
- ½ oz rose water
- 4 oz brut Champagne or Cava
- Candied Madrileño Violets or candied rose petals
Add Crème de Violette, St. Germain, and rose water to a white wine or coupe glass. Top with champagne. Garnish with candied rose petals or a few old-fashioned candied violets. (© courtesy of Chasing Grapes™)
Italy is home to several spritzy, sparkling cocktails that refresh all year around. The Sbagliato cocktail, along with the classic Aperol Spritz, is an example of a delicious and classic Italian wine cocktail recipe.
- 1oz of sweet vermouth
- 4oz of Prosecco (Brut-style)
- ½oz of Campari
- Some club soda
Pour the Prosecco into an ice-filled white wine or rocks glass. Add the Campari and vermouth. Top with just enough club soda to fill the glass. Stir gently and garnish with a lime or orange wheel.
Cool Gin Fizz
This cocktail is best with Champagne, but you can get away with a nice Cava. It is refreshing and aromatic, perfect for a holiday party with colleagues.
- one small cucumber
- 1 oz of simple syrup
- ½ oz rose water
- 2 1/2 oz of gin
- 3 oz Champagne or Cava
- A splash of club soda
Shave several thin ribbons from the cucumber, reserving two. Muddle the remaining slices in a shaker. Add the simple syrup and gin, fill with ice, and shake until frosty. Strain the mix into 4 ice-filled wine glasses. Add the Champagne / Cava and a splash of club soda and gently stir. Garnish with thin cucumber ribbons and an edible rosebud or petals.
Still Wine Cocktails
Kir Cocktail (Vin Blanc Cassis)
The kir is one of the few cocktails that use crème de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur that acts as a dark fruit sweetener and dresses up any wine wonderfully; it is dark in color with a thick consistency, similar to Chambord. Traditionally made with Burgundian Aligoté, a slightly herbal, light white wine.
- ½ oz crème de cassis liqueur, natural is best
- 5 oz Aligoté
The UK Sour is a beautiful and festive layered cocktail. Essentially, it is a modern twist on a classic sour with the addition of aromatic cinnamon syrup, red wine, and a splash of lemon.
- 1 ½ oz of single malt
- ½ oz cinnamon syrup
- A squeeze of lemon
- A dash of the apricot liqueur
- A splash of dry red wine
Pre-chill a martini glass and fill halfway with shaved or crushed ice. Carefully layer the ingredients starting with the single malt. Slowly add the cinnamon syrup, followed by the lemon. Drizzle the apricot liqueur atop the concoction. Finally,gently float the red wine to preserve the colors. Make sure to pre-fill the serving glasses with ice to retain the two-tone appearance.
Sherries & Ports, Fortified Wine Cocktails
Fino Martini, shaken not stirred
The Fino Martini mirrors the aromatics of a dirty martini but it is lower in alcohol and easier to drink more than one.
- 2 oz fino sherry
- 1 oz gin
- Splash of dry vermouth
- Crushed iced
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and blend well. Pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish as you would a dirty martini, with olives or onions.
The Café Martini is a lovely pick-me-up or digestif. Its coffee aromatics, lush flavors, and a dash of sweetness, make it a perfect dessert.
- 1 ½ oz of cold brew coffee or chilled espresso
- 1 oz dark rum
- 1 ½ oz tawny port
- Crushed ice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and give it a vigorous shaking. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
The perennially popular Negroni is a perfect summer cocktail. This tawny twist takes the Negroni into winter as well.
- 1.5 oz tawny port
- 1 oz gin
- 1 oz Campari
- ½ oz sweet vermouth
- Crushed ice
- Orange peel and zest
Combine the liquids and ice into a cocktail shaker. Give it a vigorous shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled halfway with ice. Garnish with orange peel and zest. The Port Negroni is delicious straight up as well.
White Port & Tonic (G&T)
White port, while rare, is gaining in popularity. Its aromatics lend themselves well to a modern take on the classic G&T (gin and tonic).
- 3 oz white port
- 1 oz gin
- 6 oz tonic
- 1 orange slice
- 2 lemon slices
- 2 lime slices
- Crushed ice
Combine liquids and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into a tall Collins glass filled halfway with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange slice followed by the lemon, then the lime slices. This drink is refreshing in the summer months, but still perfect for any winter cocktail party.
The Smoky Topaz blends opulent tawny port with smoky, woodsy, mezcal, and añejo tequila for a brawny, aromatic cocktail.
- 2 ½ oz tawny port
- ½ oz mezcal
- ½ oz añejo tequila
Blend the ingredients in a shaker glass. Allow the drink to warm slightly. Pour into a cordial glass. The cocktail doesn’t require a garnish, but an orange peel twist can be a lovely addition. (© courtesy of Chasing Grapes™)
If a cocktail can be sexy, then the Bolero is just that. It is a beautiful blend of Sherry and spice, perfect for everything nice.
- 1.25 oz Amontillado
- 0.75 oz Manzanilla
- 0.75 oz Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur
- 0.25 oz Midori
- Lemon twist
Pour liquids into a shaker glass, add ice, and stir. Allow the beverage to chill. Create a lemon twist with a channel knife over a 6 oz coupe, allowing the oils to express themselves over the inside of the glass. Rub a piece of zest along the rim of the glass, discard the peel after using.
Strain into the coupe and garnish with the lemon twist.
French Toast Flip
The French Toast Flip is the perfect brunch drink with its maple pie spice and cream flavors. It is perfect next to a roaring fireplace with s’mores, great company, or a good book.
- 1 oz Sweet, Aged Oloroso
- 1/2 oz Apple Brandy
- 1/2 oz Scotch Whiskey
- 1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
- 1/2 oz Dark Maple Syrup
- 2 dashes Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters
- 1 whole egg
- Garnish with freshly grated cinnamon
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously yet briefly. Add crushed ice and shake vigorously until the drink becomes creamy. Strain into a red wine glass or a cocoa mug. Garnish freshly grated cinnamon.
The Valentino cocktail is a sensual after-dinner indulgence perfect for colder months and longer nights.
- 1 oz Ruby Red port
- 1 ½ oz bourbon
- 1 oz espresso
- 1 ½ oz heavy cream
- ⅛ t hazelnut extract
- Shaved Honey Mama’s Spicy Dark cocoa truffle bar
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Crushed ice
Add ice and liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Pour into a sugar-rimmed martini glass. Garnish with shaved chocolate and grated nutmeg.
Simone FM Spinner is a wine writer, consultant, judge, speaker, and published author. She is a certified sommelier with 13 advanced wine certifications, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in wine studies, and is pursuing her doctorate researching wine, climate change, and legacy. She is the Women of the Vine & Spirits 2020 WSET Diploma scholar.