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Bubbles Make a Blissful Summer

As the summer heats up a bit in Wine Country, there’s nothing like a sparkling wine cocktail to give the season a bubbly zing. For an extra cool refresher, take a trip into the City, where temperatures can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler during the day. Grab some brunch or lunch with a specialty sparkling cocktail, then head back home to Wine Country for dinner with, yes, more sparkling.

The next day, you can even make your own cocktails, courtesy of recipes straight from the talented barkeeps of some of our favorite restaurants and wineries.

301 Mission St., San Francisco, 415-543-7474, michaelmina.net.

The specialty salon cocktail at this chic hotspot is called Death In France, a nod to the classic French cocktail called “Death in the Afternoon” conceived by Ernest Hemingway. Both drinks contain sparkling wine, however rather than Hemingway’s potent absinthe, the mixologists here feature yellow chartreuse, an herbal liqueur that is light and aromatic. For a modern twist, the cocktail is finished with yuzu and orange bitters. Traditionally an aperitif, this drink is bright, effervescent, and pleasantly complex—the perfect summertime quaff.

4 oz sparkling wine
1 oz yellow chartreuse
1/4 oz yuzu juice
3-4 dashes orange bitters
Lemon peel garnish
Serve in a wine glass over ice

Bluestem Brasserie
1 Yerba Buena Ln., San Francisco, 415-547-1111, bluestembrasserie.com.

The Briar Patch is bright, tart, and in perfect complement to the Brasserie’s boisterous urban dining experience. A delightful fruity concoction fashioned of house-made seasonal berry juice, gin, citrus, and champagne, it’s served in a martini glass and garnished with fresh berries.

Berry Juice:
Macerate 1 cup of pitted, quartered cherries, 1 cup of strawberries, 2 pints of raspberries, 2 pints of blackberries and 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Let sit overnight (or at least 1 hour)
Mix in 1-½ cup crème de fraise, 1-½ cup cherry brandy, 1-½ cup crème de framboise, 1-½ cup blackberry liqueur, and 3 cups of gin
Strain mixture. Use juice in a cocktail and reserve mixture for "boozy" jams or cheese accompaniment (the strained mixture can sit in the refrigerator up to one week)

The Drink:
1 oz of your favorite gin
1-1.2 oz house-made berry juice (see above)
Juice from half a lime
Fill pint glass with ice, add ingredients and shake. Pour mixture into martini glass and top with champagne; garnish with a blackberry and raspberry.

300 Spear St., San Francisco, 415-247-7770, prospectsf.com.

Mixologist Justin Crawford has created a brilliant Pompelmo Frizzante cocktail, combining vodka, sparkling wine, grapefruit, vanilla and lemon. Rather than make it at home, it’s a drink you’ve got to try as made by the professionals, to appreciate the mesmerizing balance of flavors as well as an intriguing textural component.

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
23555 Carneros Hwy. 121, Sonoma, 707-996-7256, gloriaferrer.com.

You can visit the winery, taste the sparkling wines, and then bring some bottles home for future enjoyment, too. Try this lovely California Julep.

1-1/2 oz brandy
1/4 oz strawberry liqueur
1 Tbs. sugar syrup
Chilled Sonoma Brut or Blanc de Blancs or Blanc de Noirs
Mint sprigs
In the bottom of a glass, crush the mint sprigs into the syrup. Fill with crushed ice. Add the brandy. Stir in Gloria Ferrer. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Domaine Chandon
1 California Dr., Yountville, (888) 242-6366, chandon.com.

Gather around the bar, a cocktail table, or shaded patio table at this vibrant, contemporary tasting lounge. There are dozens of wines and sparklings to taste, and the adjacent Etoile restaurant crafts cocktails like the Mimosa Chandon Brut Classic with fresh squeezed orange juice, or the Bellini Chandon Brut Classic with peach purée. Here is another recipe you’ll be sure to love:

From Chandon with Love
1.5 oz ginger liqueur
1 oz cranberry juice
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 drops rose water
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake well, strain into two sparkling wine coupes and top with Chandon Extra-Dry Riche. Garnish with a red rose petal. Makes 2 cocktails.

Tip: Sparkling cocktails and driving don’t mix. Travel in style with a Pure Luxury limo or Town car (and you can request the limo be stocked with sparkling wines, too!)

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