Whether you are a film fanatic or just in it for the gowns, awards season is a no-brainer excuse for a theme party. Hollywood glitz and glamour offers the perfect opportunity to pull out your fancy Champagne flutes and costume jewelry for an affair to remember.
Maybe you’re partial to a menu of bad film-food puns (Manchester by the Sea-Salt Caramels?), but if you prefer a more refined gathering, the best place to start is with the right cocktail.
This recipe for a Red Carpet Royal is a traditional champagne cocktail that’s dressed for the biggest night in Hollywood, this year which falls on Feb. 26. We’ve added some gold leaf, which you should be able to find in most specialty stores, because we like the sparkle. If you prefer minimalism, you can leave the gold leaf out and have an equally delicious cocktail.
We call for a sugar cube placed at the bottom of each glass. Though you can use granulated sugar or simple syrup instead, the sugar cube creates an experience for you and your guests. As the sugar dissolves, it helps to create layers while it slowly sweetens the cocktail. Your first sip will be unlike your last, and all the while, the cube will be sending up bubbles for Academy Award-worthy drama.
In addition to the champagne, this cocktail is flavoured with elderflower liqueur and lemon bitters. Elderflower liqueur is a spirit made with the small, white flower that blooms throughout Europe. It is a much-loved flavour worldwide, found in cocktails, cake, and even savory dishes, and it is gaining popularity in the United States.
Elderflower liqueur is typically sweet, though it varies by brand, and adds a bright, floral note to cocktails. If you have any left over from this recipe, you may enjoy it as an addition to classic cocktails, like a gin and tonic with lime, or even mixed into a cold glass of hard cider.
Bitters are the Best Supporting Actor of the cocktail world, balancing the sweetness and acidity of the main flavours. Made from extractions of herbs, spices, roots, and fruit rinds, bitters are highly concentrated and used in small doses. The Culinary Institute of America’s Beverage Instructor Rory Brown explains, “The addition of lemon bitters balances the overt sweetness from the sugar cube and the brightness of the wine. Bitters fine-tune cocktails, just as salt and pepper are used to adjust the final flavours of food.”
Though the cocktail shouldn’t be mixed ahead, you can prepare your lemon curl garnish earlier in the day. Make the Royals on demand to make every guest feel like a VIP, and you’re sure to land a nod for best host.
RED CARPET ROYAL
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1 sugar cube
2 dashes lemon bitters
1 sheet of gold leaf
1 ounce elderflower liqueur
4.5 ounces sparkling wine
Lemon zest, as needed
Put the sugar cube in the bottom of a flute and add bitters.
Separate the sheet of gold leaf into quarters and place in the bottom of the glass. Add elderflower liqueur, then top with sparkling wine.
Using a channel knife, cut around the axis of the lemon to create a long spiral thread of zest. Place into glass.
Instructor’s Note: If you are without a channel knife you can create the spiral using a peeler. Start at the top of the lemon and zest a long continuous spiral around the lemon. When you lay the lemon strip on a cutting board, it should resemble an “S.” Using a sharp knife, cut the jagged edge off of one side of the peel. Return to the clean edge and cut another thin strip following the contour of the zest.
Nutrition information per serving: 195 calories; 0 calories from fat; 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 7 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 15 g sugar; 0 g protein.