Caitlin Corcoran, of Kansas City's Ça Va bar, says, "We found this cranberry juice and Grand Marnier cocktail in an old recipe book. People gush because the rosemary sprig looks like mistletoe. Plus a lower ABV cocktail means you can have a couple of drinks. Holiday parties are a marathon, not a sprint."
"This is one of Ça Va's most popular drinks. I use Jameson, honey and yellow chartreuse, a botanical liqueur that's more mellow than its green cousin. It's easy to drink, so that's dangerous," says Corcoran.
"You look like an amazing host with punch at a party, but people serve themselves—so easy. This one has dark berry notes from crème de cassis, which is a black currant liqueur. It goes great with a cheese board," says Corcoran.
As the owner of a champagne bar, Corcoran spends a lot of time dispelling myths about sparkling wine. Are you ready to have your bubbles burst?
I need an excuse to drink sparkling wine. "People hear 'champagne bar' and think it's super luxurious, or like a rap video. We get calls about dress code. We try to take that pretension out. Bubbly is actually the best food-pairing wine and will go with anything on your table. Plus, it's fun! Life's too short not to live in the moment."
I can't afford it. "Champagne is special and comes only from one region of France. The idea of mixing it in a cocktail makes my heart stop a little. But that's not the only sparkling wine! One budget option is Italian Prosecco, but I actually prefer Spanish Cava. It's made in the same style as Champagne, with more effervescence than Prosecco, and has classic apple, pear and stone-fruit notes."
It's sweet—and hangover central. "So many people clarify 'I want a dry wine' when ordering because they've had bad experiences with cheap sparkling wine that has sugar added to cover up not-great grapes. They think it gives them a hangover. But a good one won't any more than any wine."
It's gotta be ice-cold. "We only serve with ice buckets on 96-degree days on the patio. People are mystified by it. But the only reason champagne has to be so cold is to get the cork out safely. You really want the wine to be a bit warmer to get all the nuances."
I have to finish the bottle. "Nope. Just get a good resealer—I like the ones that are sold as champagne stoppers with a little lever that hooks around—and put it back in the fridge after you pop it. The bubbles will stay a couple of days."