Inspiration from a French Inn: Cocktail Maison

Straight Up Cocktails and Spirits

Can you guess what gives this Champagne cocktail its peachy-pink blush? After I sampled a glass of it, I just had to find out.

My friend Hillary discovered this sparkling cocktail years ago while traveling through the French countryside. She was staying in small inn with an adjoining restaurant. An assortment of cocktails were offered before dinner as apéritifs. Hillary chose the house specialty, the cocktail maison.

It was cool and effervescent. A balance of fruity sweetness and bright, slightly bitter citrus flavors. She loved the drink so much, she asked the waiter for the recipe.

And now, years later, back at home in New York's Hudson Valley, that French inn's cocktail maison has become Hillary's own house cocktail. She recently shared the formula with me.

The blush pink ingredient? Campari - that and the pale peach mandarin orange-flavored liqueur, Mandarine Napoléon. There's a little gin splashed in for good measure too.

"Cocktail Maison"

Makes 2 or more cocktails

Champagne or other white sparkling wine (Hillary uses prosecco)
1 ounce Campari (Hillary used 1 ounce)
1 ounce Mandarine Napoléon or other orange-flavored liqueur (Hillary used 1 ounce - and often substitutes Cointreau. Grand Marnier could also be swapped in.)
1/2 ounce gin (The original called for equal parts Campari, Mandarine, and gin, but Hillary adapted it to use a little less - in this case, about 1/2 ounce)

Mix Campari, Mandarine Napoléon (or Cointreau), and gin together in a measuring cup. Pour a small quantity (about half an inch - or more or less according to taste) into the bottom of two champagne flutes. Top up with sparkling wine. Repeat as desired.

Do you have a "house cocktail"?

Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.

Related: Traveling Inspiration: Yuzu Mojito from Tokyo

(Images: Nora Maynard)