As the popularity of bubbly drinks skyrockets, Sea Island bartenders get creative with their effervescent offerings.
By Stephanie Kalina-Metzger
With sales of Champagne, prosecco and sparkling wine booming, and the premium mixer sector continuing to rapidly expand, it’s clear that bubbly libations are currently on trend in the beverage world. Hard seltzer in particular is experiencing what industry experts refer to as a “meteoric rise,” and sparkling water—which includes both club sodas and seltzers—is also soaring in popularity as consumers seek out healthier alternatives.
“Consumers today are pursuing wellness, in part, by reducing their consumption of sweetened beverages like traditional carbonated soft drinks,” says David Portalatin, vice president and food industry adviser at The NPD Group, a New York-based market research firm. “Rather than just switch to plain water, sparkling water provides variety—including flavored options that typically contain less sugar, no added sugar or use alternative sweeteners. As our tastes moved in this direction, sparkling water/seltzers found their way into cocktails, and hard seltzers became an extension of the trend for alcoholic beverage occasions.”
Jeff Montaigne, lead bartender at The Oak Room at Sea Island, cites science when interpreting the carbonation craze. “Carbonation actually activates the same receptors that are activated by eating spicy food,” he says, a phenomenon that some have described as a thrill without any risk.
But bubbles serve another purpose as well, according to Montaigne. “They help release aromas and flavors, making the libation more intense,” he says. “Tiny bubbles are preferred in Champagne. The more bubbles per surface [area], the more intense the flavor that rises to the top.”
Discover some of the resort’s most popular carbonated cocktails, and learn how to make them in your own kitchen.
Mule is the name given to a family of historic mixed drinks that combine either ginger ale or ginger beer with a variety of base liquors. According to Montaigne, the inspiration behind the Chipotle Mule relates to the fact that mule cocktails were originally called bucks, which helped to bring vodka into the mainstream bar scene. An ever-popular choice among Sea Island members and guests, mules are served resortwide in traditional copper cups, which are said to maximize fizz as cold copper increases the amount of bubbles found in the carbonated ginger beer. On top of the tingle from the bubbles, “a spicy component gives it an extra kick,” Montaigne says, in reference to the vodka. On property, find this classic-with-a-twist on the menu at River Bar & Lounge at The Cloister.
1 1/2 ounces St. George Spirits Green Chile vodka
1/2 ounce John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
2 ounces ginger beer
1 ounce lime juice
1 lime wheel, for garnish
3 slices red pepper, for garnish
Combine vodka, Velvet Falernum, ginger beer and lime juice in a copper mug. Garnish with a lime wheel and red pepper.
Masters G n T
The Masters G n T hits a hole-in-one when it comes to drinks that are evocative of seasonal florals at Sea Island. This light and refreshing cocktail is inspired by springtime in the South, when scents of honeysuckle and jasmine fill the air. In fact, St. George Spirits’ Botanivore Gin, one of the drink’s main ingredients, has been described as reminiscent of a meadow in bloom. Members and guests can lift a glass to each other at The Lodge, both at The Oak Room and the Pool House, while enjoying the relaxing refrains of a bagpiper who entertains at sundown each evening.
1 1/2 ounces St. George Spirits Botanivore Gin
1/2 ounce St-Germain
3 1/2 ounces Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 sprig rosemary, for garnish
Combine gin, St-Germain, tonic water and lemon juice in a double rocks glass, adding ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
Summer in Kyoto
At The Oak Room, find the perfect summer drink to sip by the pool: Summer in Kyoto. Inspired by one of Montaigne’s favorite combinations—sake and soda water—this cocktail was one of the most popular drinks offered last summer, merging both sake and sparkling rosé with the fresh flavors of blackberry and basil. The result is a refreshing beverage that is on the menu again this season.
2 ounces Koji Sake
2 ounces Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Rosé
1 ounce blackberry-basil syrup (recipe follows)
1/4 ounce lemon juice
Salt, to taste
1 blackberry, for garnish
1 basil leaf, for garnish
Combine sake, rosé, blackberry-basil syrup, lemon juice and salt in a stemmed Bordeaux wine glass. Stir and add ice, then finish with blackberry and basil leaf garnishes.
Four 6-ounce containers of blackberries
10 ounces fresh basil
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
Combine blackberries, basil, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.
It’s only fitting that Sea Island’s Italian restaurant, Tavola, would be home to a drink crafted with prosecco, sparkling wine produced in Italy. The inspiration for this bubbly drink was the French 75, a Champagne cocktail made with gin, lemon juice and sugar. Here at Tavola, Montaigne says they substitute prosecco for a proper Italian flair, but also replace the lemon juice with grapefruit. All things considered, the Tavola 75 is the perfect libation for toasting, reminiscing or simply sipping.
1 ounce Death’s Door Gin
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce grapefruit juice
3 ounces prosecco
1 grapefruit twist, for garnish
Combine gin, simple syrup and grapefruit juice in a shaker. Add ice, then shake. Strain into a Champagne flute. Top with prosecco and garnish with a twist of grapefruit.