Remember wine coolers? Turns out they're not actually all that cool these days.
But don't put that cork back in the bottle just yet. Why not mix up a few wine cocktails, which —î unlike their commercial predecessors — are quite sophisticated and of-the-moment.
"Wine-based cocktails are something that I think have really taken off," says Amy Currens, wine director at Prospect, a restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood.
Wine cocktails are a year-round drink, but they're especially good for summer, adding a fun touch to backyard barbecues and pairing well with grilled meats thanks to their grape underpinnings.
One of the cocktails served at Prospect, named appropriately enough the Prospector, consists of blended scotch, Benedictine, bitters and Madeira, the fortified wine from Portugal. "Those red fruits that come out through the Madeira would complement roasted meat," says Currens. "I can see a good brat and a Prospector."
A classic wine cocktail is the Americano, which is part vermouth and part Campari, a liqueur. Another standby is the Bellini, a mix of sparkling wine, usually Italian prosecco, and peach puree. And in general, sparkling wine is an easy way to incorporate wine into a cocktail, providing fizz and a boost of flavor.
At the Bluestem Brasserie in San Francisco, the Violet Femme cocktail uses red seedless grapes, absinthe, cabernet sauvignon, sparkling wine, simple syrup and bitters. And the Briar Patch celebrates the season with macerated summer fruit, gin, lime and sparkling wine.