Tara Morgan worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.
Pop. Fizz. Clink. It’s bubble season. Whether you prefer to sip a crisp Italian prosecco, savor a bright Spanish cava or keep it classy with a vintage French champagne, it’s the time of year to fill your flute with sparkling wine. And at a number of cocktail bars around Boise, you can get your fizz fix with a creative twist. From centuries-old champagne cocktails to more modern bubbly concoctions, Boise bartenders are shaking up an array of sparkling sips to help you ring in the New Year.
St. Lawrence Gridiron: French 75
Before you tread into craft cocktail territory, you should brush up on the classics. Swing back in time to the roaring ’20s with the French 75, a quintessential champagne cocktail consisting of gin, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and sparkling wine. Name-dropped in Casablanca, an early version of the cocktail traces its roots back to Harry’s American Bar in Paris, where the drink’s potent punch was likened to the powerful French 75mm field gun used during World War I. At St. Lawrence Gridiron, the cocktail is a popular brunch staple that cuts through decadent dishes like the hollandaise-draped Brisket Benedict.
Bardenay: Classic Champagne Cocktail
Dating back to the mid-1800s, the Classic Champagne Cocktail has withstood the test of time. Made by dousing a sugar cube with a few dashes of aromatic bitters, dropping it into a flute, adding a splash of brandy and filling the rest of the glass up with sparkling wine, this crowd-pleasing cocktail hits all the right notes—sweet, bitter, bubbly, boozy. Bardenay’s version has a light amber hue and a persistent stream of bubbles that fizz to the surface as the lump of sugar dissolves in the bottom of the glass.
Diablo & Sons Saloon: Moral Suasion
If you’re looking for a low-octane libation that’s as pretty as it is pleasing, don’t miss the rosemary crowned Moral Suasion at Diablo & Sons. Crafted by shaking Priorat Natur Vermut, a nutty Spanish vermouth, with bright pink prickly pear simple syrup and fresh squeezed lemon, the Moral Suasion gets topped off with a splash of fizzy prosecco. Served in a vintage crystal glass, this cocktail is the perfect refresher to sip under Diablo & Son’s fringe-draped chandeliers while you snack on a plate of fire-kissed chicken wings.
The Modern: Lillian Rose
For a liquid version of the Boise foothills at sunset, order The Modern’s blushing Lillian Rose. Made with two types of bitter liqueurs—Byrrh, a fortified aperitif wine with quinine—-and Braulio Amaro, an Italian digestif, this nutty tipple is topped with a splash of brut rose and a fragrant twig of locally foraged sagebrush. But don’t let this libation’s rosy complexion fool you, it’s a complex bubbly cocktail with a bitter bite.
The Mode: Death in the Afternoon
Invented by veteran imbiber Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon consists of only two ingredients—absinthe and champagne. But the author’s recipe includes specific instructions for how to prepare and enjoy the drink: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.” At The Mode Lounge, bartenders add a twist to this classic by shaking a raspberry and a little simple syrup with the absinthe until it tints the drink a bright pink.
Atlas Bar: Saint 75
For a floral take on the French 75, Atlas Bar swaps out the simple syrup for St-Germain, a French liqueur crafted from elderflower blossoms. The low-lit bar also uses Old Boise Gin, a local spirit made with Idaho potatoes and lavender that’s produced by Koenig Distillery in Caldwell. To prepare the Saint 75, bartenders shake up St-Germain, Old Boise Gin and fresh lemon juice, then top it off with a float of prosecco and a lemon twist.
Tara Morgan is a freelance food + booze writer and co-owner of Wild Plum Events. She loves an epic dinner party, good design, bad puns and pretty much every French rosé ever made. Follow her on Instagram at @boisefeed.
Feature image credited to Tara Morgan.