Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Montane Cocktail - Veuve Ambal & Hella Bitters Cocktail Competition

I was invited to participate in the Veuve Ambal & Hella Bitters Cocktail Competition - a blogger competition between fellow booze-obsessed writers.  Naturally I accepted, as I am a woman interested in the progression of all things cocktail, and it sounded like a great excuse to play around with the classic Champagne Cocktail.

The rules are simple, to use both the Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blanc and Hella Bitters in a new and creative cocktail!

I've been a fan of Hella Bitters for years now, and have even had the opportunity to meet the handsome lads who run the Hella Empire.  Veuve Ambal, however, is new to me.  I notoriously love anything with bubbles in it, and have a deep seeded love affair with white Burgundy wine, a cousin of this sparkling wine.  Made in Burgundy France, Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blanc is made of only white grapes, and has many of the same flavor characteristics as a classic white burgundy.  It has notes of ripe pear, apricot, and floral notes of jasmine and hibiscus, with an undertone of chalk or slate.

Note:  Sparkling wines such as Veuve Ambal are traditionally made in similar methods to Champagne, although only sparkling wines made in Champagne, France may don the name Champagne.  Many sparkling wines made outside of the region are equally, if not more delicious, and can often be purchased at a fraction of the price of their name brand cousins.  

I wanted to make a play on a Champagne Cocktail that balances the sweetness of the champagne with a touch of savory bitterness.  One of my favorite products as of late is Pine Syrup made by the duo from Dram Apothecary.  It's made from hand-foraged Colorado Pine, Organic Sugar, Herbs, and Spices, and is made in Silver Plume, Colorado, an old mountainous mining town.  The pine pairs nicely with the sweet, summery flavors of pear and apricot, and gives it a wild savory note.  A bar spoon of Punt E Mes gives the cocktail a bit more robust flavor, enhanced by the flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg  in the Aromatic Hella Bitters.

Finally, to brighten the flavors of the cocktail, I shake the Punt E Mes, Pine Syrup, bitters with ice and a fresh lemon peel to impart the citrus oils into the spirits.  This technique adds a subtle brightness that enhances all of the other flavors without making the cocktail too sour.    

Finally, top with bubbles, wipe a lemon peel around the rim of your glass, and you're ready to serve!

Lemon Peel in the Tin
Add Bitters, Pine, & Punt E Mes
Add Bubbles
Wipe with Lemon Peel

The Montane Cocktail
Created by Gastronomista

1/2 oz Dram Pine Syrup 
Barspoon Punt E Mes
5 dashes Aromatic Hella Bitters
3 oz Brut Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blanc (or to the top of your glass)
2 Lemon Peels, One to Shake, One to Garnish 


Shake Punt E Mes, Pine Syrup, bitters, and lemon peel with ice.  Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and top with Veuve Ambal.  Wipe rim of glass with second Lemon Peel, squeeze peel over cocktail releasing the oils, and float on top of the cocktail.


 photo Gastronomista_The-Montane-Cocktail_zps1d664f86.gif

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