My favorite thing to do when I was a kid was pick up worms and watch ants. I really love using a blowtorch. When my husband goes out of town, my idea of a great chick flick is “Con Air.”
I don’t think anyone has ever called me a girlie girl.
Though, to be clear, if I knew of someone who had, I’d probably avoid them—not because I consider “girlie girl” an insult, but because they do. The belittling of particular trends and tastes based on the idea that they’re female-driven makes me want to pick up a blowtorch. A pink one.
Which brings me to rosé, the wine that’s everywhere, the wine that launched a thousand hashtags (nearing 500,000 tags of #RoséAllDay on Insta at last check) and an equal number of jokes about “mom wines” and millennials and their adoration for the rosy color that’s come to bear their generation’s name.
I may not be a so-called girlie girl, whatever that is, but I love a good rosé. So do people of all types and genders everywhere. And a good frosé, the strawberry-slushy version that’s become such a thing over the past few years, is a great summer slurp. I’ve even been known to sip a brosé, a name we conjured for a mix of cheap rosé and PBR, concocted and consumed during a sweltering summer grilling session a few years back. Though truly, the less said about that one, the better. It was very hot out.
For those newer to wine: When juice comes out of the grape, no matter the grape’s color, it comes out clear. What gives wine color is largely contact with the grape skins; rosé wine is made in such a way that, during its maceration period, the juice stays in contact with the skins long enough (sometimes for just hours) to pick up some pink, but not long enough to reach that deep hue that makes a red.
The rep of rosé wine has risen and fallen over the years. Its nadir may have been during the white zinfandel wave that surged out of California in the late ‘70s, tinting everyone’s rosé-colored glasses with the skewed perspective that all pink wines were sweet. Not so, as anyone who has sampled the genre widely could attest; there are plenty of dry, complex rosés out there, especially among the Europeans, which tend to lean drier more reliably. Many of them are particularly food-friendly, and walk a nice tightrope during this hot season when you want something with a little more depth (and chill!) than a big red.
I love many rosés just as they are, but they can also be lovely as cocktail components—even some of the sweeter fruit bombs, which can help provide needed balance in a mixed drink. If you’re looking for a little variety in your rosé-drinking game, here are some tips about mixing with the pink stuff. I’m also providing a cocktails 1-2-3 template, each drink with its own approach: The Easy-Peasy (fast and simple), the Modified Classic (a riff on a great existing drink) and the Advance Team (a drink that’s a little more work, but that you can prep ahead of time and have ready for company).
- Know your ingredients. When you’re mixing with the wine, you don’t have to buy a rosé that drinks fantastic on its own—why would you hide that in a cocktail? But you don’t want one that you hate the taste of, either. Find one you like, not too pricey, and think about how it will taste with other ingredients you want to include.
- Watch the sugar. Many cocktails need a sweetening element, but there are some pretty sweet pink wines out there, and if you’re using one of them to cocktail with, you may want to hold off on adding sweetener till after you’ve added the wine, when you can assess how much more sweetness is needed. Generally, look for a drier wine (a brut-style, if you’re getting a sparkling one); you can always add more sweetness, but you can’t take it out.
- Pay the wine a complement. When you’re picking what to mix with your rosé, think about how its flavor would pair with others. Try mixing small amounts of the other ingredients you’re considering with your wine and seeing how they taste together. Both the wine and the summer season suggest white spirits as boosters: gin, blanco tequila and rum. Summer fruits—peaches, nectarines, berries—tend to work great with rosé, as does most citrus (in fruit or liqueur form). Herbs such as thyme, rosemary and mint make for good aromatic contrasts. Red Italian bitters such as Campari and Aperol can add a bracing bittersweetness.
- Bring the bubble. Dry sparkling wines can make for elegant mixers, stretching a drink base and adding that fizzy texture to the layers of flavor. They’re highly versatile, and visually, they add festivity as soon as they’re popped open.
ROSÉ ON ROSÉ
This drink follows a classic, simple template: boosting a dry sparkling wine with a liqueur. I’m recommending Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, a relatively new liqueur from Italy. Flavors of traditional Italian “rosolios” vary from region to region and are often homemade, but this has been a hit since it crossed the pond. It includes roses in its flavor profile, but fear not: It’s not a patchouli bomb. Its flavor is much more of bergamot, a fragrant citrus fruit grown mostly in southern Europe. If you’re familiar with the smell of Earl Grey tea, you known the intriguing perfume of bergamot.
If you find it hard to lay hands on Italicus, though, you can use another liqueur—try peach, elderflower or ginger. You can serve this in a champagne glass, or take it in the Italian spritz direction instead by serving it over ice in a large wine goblet, with an optional splash of soda.
Make sure to chill the wine in advance. If you want to take the drink more in the Italian spritz direction, skewer a good Castelvetrano olive on a cocktail pin and rest it on the edge of the glass.
1 ounce Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto (see headnote)
3 to 4 ounces chilled brut-style sparkling rosé
Twist of grapefruit peel, for garnish (may substitute 1 Castelvetrano olive; see headnote)
Chill a champagne glass.
Pour in the liqueur, then top with the chilled sparkling rosé (to taste).
Twist the grapefruit peel over the surface of the drink (to express the oils), then drop it into the glass.
GIN AROUND THE ROSÉ
Summer’s usually a time for lighter drinks, but even in summer, now and then, a martini just seems to fit the bill. The martini variation I’ve been drinking this summer you might think of as a millennial martini—it is rose-gold, after all. While you can use another aromatized wine in this recipe, they may require a little tweaking: What you really want to use is Cocchi Americano Rosa, a bittersweet, orangy, spicy powerhouse that marries beautifully with gin.
If you can’t find Cocchi Rosa, Lillet Rosé could work in its place, but without the pinch of salt.
Pinch sea salt
1 dash orange bitters
1 ½ ounces Cocchi Rosa
1 ½ ounces gin, preferably barrel-aged
Twist of orange peel, for garnish
Chill a cocktail (martini) glass.
Add the pinch of salt and dash of orange bitters to a mixing glass and swirl them together briefly.
Fill the mixing glass with ice, then add the Cocchi Rosa and the gin. Stir for 15 seconds to chill and dilute, then strain into the cocktail glass.
Twist the orange peel over the surface of the drink (to express the oils), then drop it into the glass.
ROSÉ OLÉ BRUNCH PUNCH
8 to 10 servings
Dry sparkling rosé and grapefruit are terrific together. Blanco tequila and grapefruit are terrific together. This punch is a bit like a fancy Paloma, and you can dress it up with garnishes (wheels of lime and ruby red grapefruit, sprigs of thyme and so forth) as much as you like. You can make the base for this drink ahead of time, then keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. All you’ll have to do when your guests arrive is set up a punch bowl, add an ice block and garnishes, and pour.
The base cordial can be refrigerated up to 48 hours in advance. If you’re serving the drink punch-style, make sure to freeze a block of ice the night before you plan to serve it by filling a bowl or plastic storage container with water and freezing it to make a large ice block.
Should you prefer to serve it individually rather than as a punch, for each serving, add several ice cubes to a rocks glass, add 1 1/2 ounces of the base tequila/grapefruit base, then top with 2 to 3 ounces of the rosé and a splash of grapefruit soda. Garnish each glass with a lime wheel and a sprig of thyme.
½ cup sugar
1 cup hot water
1 ½ cups blanco tequila
1 cup grapefruit liqueur, such as Combier or Giffard Pamplemousse
Juice from 1 large ruby red grapefruit, strained to remove any pulp (½ to ¾ cup)
½ tsp. Angostura bitters
Large block of ice
One 750-milliliter bottle chilled Brut-style sparkling rosé wine, such as Gruet
7 ½ ounces (1 can) Q grapefruit soda
Thyme sprigs, for garnish
Lime wheels, for garnish
Wheels of red grapefruit, for garnish
For the base cordial: Combine the sugar and hot water in a mixing bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then stir in the tequila, grapefruit liqueur, grapefruit juice and the bitters until well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the drink: Place the block of ice in a punch bowl. Pour in the base cordial, then gently pour in the bottle of sparkling wine and the can of grapefruit soda. Stir gently until well blended.
Garnish by scattering wheels of lime, red grapefruit and sprigs of thyme over the surface of the drink. Serve in punch cups or rocks glasses.