According to Wine and Spirits Daily, wine-based cocktails continued their triple-digit growth in October, with sales up 146 percent and volumes up 431 percent. With an eye on profit, many restaurants are building sangrias, mulled wines, spritzers, and sours into their cocktail programs.
Mark Stanford, GM at Truffle Pig in Steamboat Springs, sees the value in wine cocktails. “In Steamboat we have a lot of guests who come from sea level, and drinking too heavily ruins a ski trip,” he says. “Two to three ounces of wine in a cocktail keeps the ABV low and it tastes great. Guests can enjoy it in a sessional way at 7,000 feet. We have a big beverage program and we can show off our wine collection through our cocktails.”
These cocktails can also help manage pour costs and simplify production. Beaujolais, dessert wines, or Champagne add density to a cocktail without over-proofing it. “With a single element—wine—I can proof a cocktail, [and] bring in aromatics and also sugars. A couple of ounces is less expensive than creating separate syrups or other spirits, ” Stanford says.
A winning cocktail in this realm? Stanford recommends the New York Sour. “The wine float gives it a tart sweetness you can’t get anywhere else, along with a botanical sweetness,” he says. “It looks, smells, and tastes amazing and it’s less effort on bartenders to prep from the bar.”
New York Sour:
- 1 egg white
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce Demerara simple syrup
- ½ ounce Luxardo
- 2 ounces Sazerac rye
- red wine (Beaujolais or Pinot Noir)
- aromatic bitters
Dry shake the egg white, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add Luxardo, rye, and ice and shake all ingredients for 15 seconds. Double strain into a coupe. Add wine (something with a cranberry/chutney taste to complement the rye) by floating it through the foam and you’ll get a three-colored, layered cocktail. Add 3 dashes of aromatic bitters on top.
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