Oh, autumn. So bittersweet. Clouds appear from nowhere, overcoats are dug out of the backs of closets and, inevitably, drinkers begin pouring tumblers of hearty aged spirits. But before you hunker down for the winter, there are a few days of warm weather left. Now’s the perfect time to open the last of the white wine you bought for the summer and mix up some delicious vino-based cocktails.
When it comes to mixed drinks, white wine is too often overlooked–a shame, since it’s bright with loads of acid and a decidedly refreshing kick. Here are some tips and recipes for mixing four popular whites.
The undisputed champion of New World white wine is New Zealand sauvignon blanc, which is marked by shockingly vibrant grapefruit acidity as well as tropical fruit and berry notes. In cocktails, it mixes best with these same flavors—fresh citrus juice and tart fruit. Try the wine in my dry aperitif punch (pictured above).
While many whites are now over-oaked, French Chablis is usually lively and fresh with an attractive mineral character, which almost demands gin. Bartender Brian Miller’s Sentimental Journey is the perfect September twist on the Martini: boozy and refreshing with a suggestion of colder weather.
Riesling is a chameleon: It can be bone-dry or sweet, and even sparkling. Kelley Slagle, a New York City bartender, suggested I make cocktails with very dry rieslings that have high levels of acid, like those from Austria’s Wachau Valley. These wines can be mixed with fruit and liqueurs without the drink becoming too sweet. For example, Slagle’s blackberry-and-thyme Melk Abbey is perfectly balanced.
Spanish wines, including albariños, are some of the best values in the world. The varietal has potent fresh-citrus character and a zippy, dry texture. In a mixed drink, you have to be careful not to overpower the wine’s intrinsic subtlety. My Albariño Mint Julep has just a drop of peach liqueur and a healthy bouquet of mint.
Contributed by Brian Miller
- 1.5 oz Tanqueray No. 10 Gin
- 1 oz Chablis wine
- .5 oz Cinnamon Syrup*
- Garnish: Lemon twist
- Glass: Cocktail
Fill a mixing glass with ice and add all the ingredients. Stir, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
- 2 to 3 Cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
- 5 oz Sugar
- 5 oz Water
Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for at least six hours. Strain, and store in the refrigerator.
Contributed by Kelley Slagle
- 3 Blackberries
- 2 Thyme sprigs
- 4 oz Dry Austrian riesling wine
- Garnish: Thyme sprig and blackberry
- Glass: Rocks
Muddle the thyme and blackberries in a shaker. Add the wine and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a thyme sprig and a blackberry.
Alex Day is a bartender and co-owner of Proprietors LLC, a design and beverage-programming company based in Los Angeles and New York.