Between fretting about who to keep off the guest list to allow for social distancing and figuring out how to swap out the buffet for more, um, contactless dining, the last thing you need to be worrying about this year is sourcing umpteen ingredients for drinks.
Enter the two-ingredient cocktail, which keeps hosts from being harried and guests filled with festive cheer. And we’re not talking about fill-in-the-blank-spirit mixed with tonic, soda or cranberry.
With sweet-tart fruit flavor aplenty, sorbet is the perfect base for an aperitif. Topped with your choice of bubbly and garnish, it’s gorgeous in its simplicity and effortless in its execution, a two-ingredient tipple that practically makes itself.
“Sorbet is the perfect addition for any sparkling wine cocktail,” says Melissa Tavss, founder and CEO of Tipsy Scoop, a New York-based purveyor of booze-infused ice creams and sorbets. And she adds, it does double duty. “In place of a fruit juice or puree, it also keeps your drink cool.”
Simply garnish either with fresh berries, a mint sprig or a lemon twist, or gussy it up a bit with frozen fruit or gourmet candies. The tart citrus of Tipsy Scoop’s raspberry limoncello sorbet is a great foil for the sweetness of Prosecco — Tavss prefers the hints of lemon, green apple and grapefruit in bottles by LaMarca or Casa Farive Valdobbiadene — while the strawberry white sangria sorbet is perfect topped with a dry sparkling white.
Speaking of which, Napa Valley sparkling wine producer Chandon recently collaborated with artisanal ice cream company Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams for a limited edition sorbet made with their Brut that’s called Sparkling Berry Punch. (The project was sparked after Chandon’s head winemaker Pauline Lhote met Jeni’s namesake and creator Jeni Bauer last year.) The bright, tart notes in the sorbet are balanced by Chandon Brut’s signature flavors of apple, pear and citrus, and Lhote suggests serving it in a coupe topped with their chilled Brut and finished with fresh berries. And if you are sipping it after the meal instead of before, a side of shortbread cookies.
“The bubbly brings a fun element and the combination is surprisingly wonderful and intriguing,” says Lhote. She adds that it’s similar to a tradition she grew up with in France, enjoying pear sorbet as a palate cleanser alongside pear brandy. “It creates an unexpected moment to add joy to the evening.”
Spark your own joy this holiday season with these other tips and ideas for sorbet aperitifs:
- If you crave a more potent sip, add a splash of booze as well as bubbly. Top lemon sorbet with gin and Blanc de Blancs for a French 75, lime sorbet with rum and Cava garnished with mint for a Sparkling Mojito and grapefruit sorbet with Tequila and fizzy rosé for a Sparkling Paloma.
- To make serving easy (and keep drinks the coldest) pre-scoop the sorbet into coupe glasses and keep on a tray in the freezer.
- Be creative with garnishes. In addition to fresh berries, herbs are great adornments as they lift the aromatics. Basil pairs well with strawberry, thyme or rosemary with lemon and sage with lime.
- If you are serving these cocktails with appetizers, select combinations that match or contrast the food without overwhelming it. A lemon sorbet aperitif goes swimmingly with raw oysters; blackberry will parallel some of the dark fruit notes in a red wine and pair with hard cheeses and charcuterie, and lime is obviously a no-brainer for chips, salsa and guac.
- For anyone not imbibing, it’s easy to swap out the sparkling wine for flavored seltzer like La Croix or Polar. Some fun combinations are coconut sorbet topped with mango seltzer, strawberry sorbet with lime seltzer and raspberry sorbet with lemon seltzer.