Thanksgiving Sparkler

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Cocktail History

The Thanksgiving Sparkler is an autumn brandy and champagne cocktail that was originally created by Nick Mautone and included in his book The Artisanal Kitchen: Holiday Cocktails. This variation tweaked by us combines brandy with the flavor of pumpkin, sourness of lemon, and effervescence of champagne to make a delightful and fairly low-ABV sipper that’ll keep you buzzed through the long holiday with family and friends.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Brandy: This is the base spirit. We chose Central Standard Craft Distillery’s Northern Wisconsin Brandy for its smoothness and slightly oaky taste. Plus, it’s made locally to us, and we always enjoy supporting local distilleries when we can. 

Sparkling Wine: This is the other base spirit that lends the most prominent flavor to the drink. We went with Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut Sparkling White Wine because it’s affordable while also not being overly sweet.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup: This gives the cocktail most of its spiced pumpkin flavor and adds more sweetness. We make our syrup using Alex’s sous vide recipe.

Lemon Juice: This adds sour citrus flavors that balance out the other sweet ingredients. We always use fresh citrus juice because it’s less bitter than the bottled stuff and tastes much better.

White Sugar Cube: This is dropped into the glass to keep the sparkling wine bubbling while you sip.

Brown Sugar: This is used for the rim and adds sweet flavor to balance out the dryness of the champagne and sourness of the lemon.

Grated Nutmeg: This is the garnish. It adds a bit of spice as well as autumnal aroma and flavor.

Tasting Notes

The Thanksgiving Sparkler starts with aromas of dry champagne and has a taste that features sweet brown sugar followed by pumpkin, slight citrus flavors, and other autumnal spices, all accented with the dry sparkle and aftertaste of champagne.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: The original recipe in the book actually didn’t call for citrus, which we thought left it unbalanced. After making that change, we both found this cocktail to be quite tasty, like a fall-flavored champagne, and could definitely see ourselves enjoying a few with our Thanksgiving meal.

Alex’s Take: “Every year, we make at least one holiday-themed recipe I don’t enjoy because of its flavors, its process, or its kitschiness. This is as close as we get to that cocktail this year. The taste is honestly pretty good, with the dry champagne sweetened and flavored by the pumpkin syrup, but the original recipe didn’t call for any citrus, so it was incredibly unbalanced. With the addition of a bit of lemon juice it becomes much more palatable, and I can see this being loved at a family Thanksgiving party—as long as your relatives aren’t connoisseurs of complex, herbal, deep flavors or anything like that.”

Kendall’s Take: “I’m with Alex; the original recipe for this cocktail just wasn’t quite right. Adding the lemon juice made it so much more balanced than it was without it. Although I’ll admit it is a bit on kitschy side with its brown sugar rim, I really enjoyed this champagne cocktail. I found it to be like an autumn-flavored bubbly, which is something I’ve never tried before. If Alex will agree to make it for me, I would have this again—maybe without the sweet rim.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Artisanal Kitchen: Holiday Cocktails by Nick Mautone.

AuthorThe Artisanal Kitchen: Holiday CocktailsPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 Sparkling Wine
 1 oz Brandy
 ¼ oz Lemon Juice
 1 White Sugar Cube
 1 tsp Brown Sugar
 Grated Nutmeg

Method
1

Pour brown sugar on a plate, rim a champagne flute with ¼ oz pumpkin spice syrup, and dip glass in brown sugar until coated.

2

Add ½ oz pumpkin spice syrup, sugar cube, and brandy to rimmed champagne flute.

3

Stir gently for 10-15 seconds.

4

Top with sparkling wine.

5

Sprinkle or grate nutmeg on top.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 Sparkling Wine
 1 oz Brandy
 ¼ oz Lemon Juice
 1 White Sugar Cube
 1 tsp Brown Sugar
 Grated Nutmeg

Directions

Method
1

Pour brown sugar on a plate, rim a champagne flute with ¼ oz pumpkin spice syrup, and dip glass in brown sugar until coated.

2

Add ½ oz pumpkin spice syrup, sugar cube, and brandy to rimmed champagne flute.

3

Stir gently for 10-15 seconds.

4

Top with sparkling wine.

5

Sprinkle or grate nutmeg on top.

Thanksgiving Sparkler

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More Sparkling Wine Cocktails

If you like this sparkling wine-based cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

British 75: A gin cocktail made with lemon juice, simple syrup, sparkling wine, and a lemon wedge

Minute to Midnight: A brandy cocktail made with pear liqueur, Angostura aromatic bitters, dry sparkling wine, and a lemon twist

Wild Rose: A tequila cocktail made with pineapple gum syrup, maraschino liqueur, Angostura aromatic bitters, dry sparkling wine, and an orange twist

Mountaintop Meadow: A vodka cocktail made with elderflower liqueur, simple syrup, lavender bitters, dry sparkling wine, a pineapple wedge, and mint

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