No matter where you look, rose wines are being thrown at us in all shapes, forms and price points, so that this modern-day icon can be an attainable luxury for all.
I am proud that our market finally understands dry rose, instead of mistaking it for the infamous white zinfandel of the ’80s that no one now will admit to drinking.
True rose from Provence, France, was popularized in New York in the 2000s by socialites who claimed that Chateau d’Esclans’ Whispering Angel was the only wine that needed to be had when summering in the Hamptons. Rose was not just a drink, it represented a lifestyle, and one that we all wanted to be a part of, even if we didn’t spend July and August with Gwyneth in Mantauk.
Today’s mass acceptance of the pink stuff, however, brings with it many sub-par variations made in bulk to satisfy the hordes. Rather than go there, try one of my favorites:
>> The classic, dry Provence style is perfect with fresh, chilled shellfish, a crisp salade nicoise or all on its own. Whispering Angel may have started it all, but the juice is still very much on point. You’ll find this lovely wine poured at the best luxury resorts throughout the state. Some new discoveries in this style recently have landed on our shores, delights on the palate and in aesthetics. These include Urban Cotes de Provence Rose, ripe, soft and fruity, and in a sleek and feminine bottle. This wine is available in larger bottles of 1.5 and 3 liters, perfect for entertaining a large group. A sister wine is a new rose called Emotion, also from Provence.
>> Our local wines have long been ignored, but the good folks at Maui Wine are making a dry sparkling rose, Lokelani, that is a wonderful accompaniment to any summer meal. Consisting of 50 percent pinot noir and 50 percent chardonnay, Lokelani (Hawaiian for “heavenly rose”) proves you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy some fun bubbles.
I know, you must be thinking, “Hey, aren’t you the spirited libation gal? What’s with all the wines?”
It so happens that using roses in mixed drinks opens tasty blush-hued booze options that are shifting the category into a whole new realm.
The frozen drink that has taken the summer by storm and is now a mainstay on many resort pool menus is the Frose, made easy to execute by slush machines. You can re-create a frose party in the comfort of your own home using a blender. Even if you’re not a blended- drink fan, the beauty of this particular drink is that it is not overly sweet, and that will keep you coming back for more.
- 3 whole strawberries (frozen is OK)
- 1/4 ounce rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 3/4 ounce elderflower liqueur (like St-Germain)
- 1 ounces vodka (like Absolut Elyx or Grey Goose)
- 2 ounce dry or sparkling rose
Combine add all ingredients in blender with about 12 ounces ice. Blend and pour into highball glass.
Garnish: Strawberry half and mint sprig bouquet
Summer in the Hamptons
Another happening trend in cocktails is the use of vermouth, particularly the fresh blanc style used in conjunction with spirits to bring down the proof, or alcohol content, of a cocktail. This plays into the trend of “session cocktails” suited to long drinking sessions.
Similarly, the fortified wine made by Lillet is a welcome addition to any cocktail arsenal. The wine is absolutely delicious, boasting strawberry notes and botanicals. It is great on its own or with a little Champagne and berries.
This drink is a play on a traditional greyhound cocktail, breaking up the vodka with the rose and adding some balance with the slight bitterness of fresh-squeezed grapefruit.
- 1-1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
- 1 ounce Lillet Rose
- 1 ounce vodka or gin (like Absolut Elyx, Plymouth or Aviation)
Combine juices, syrup and liquors to mixing glass with ice. Shake to combine and strain over ice into highball glass.
Garnish: Thin grapefruit wheels floating in glass
Blanco, repo, anejo … types of tequila we all know and love. Enter: Rosa. Codigohas created its own category with the release of 1530 Rosa.
Condigo’s blanco tequila rests for a month in used Napa Valley cabernet barrels. The result is just enough aging to soften the blanco without stripping it of its delicate floral notes.
Rosa is winning all kinds of attention and awards, but most importantly, it makes a damn fine cocktail. Here is one that I have had some fun with, adding a hint of spice and summer watermelon.
- 1-1/2 ounces fresh-pressed watermelon juice
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- 1/4 ounce serrano syrup (see note)
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 ounce Lillet Rose
- 1 ounce Codigo 1530 Rosa tequila
Combine juices, syrup, salt and liquors in mixing glass with ice. Shake and strain over more ice into bucket glass.
Garnish: Pink peppercorn salt (2 parts sugar, 1 part sea salt, 1/2 part ground peppercorns) on half the rim, watermelon cubes on bar pick and lime twist
NOTE: To make serrano syrup, combine 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water and 1 roughly chopped serrano pepper in saucepan; bring to boil, then simmer 3 minutes. Cool and strain.
Bubbles by the bottle
Lastly, my favorite category of rose … the bougie bubbles of Champagne. We tend to save these beautiful bottles for special occasions, which makes me wish it was my birthday every week.
One of my all-time favorite rose Champagnes is from Billiot ($65), considered a grower Champagne (from a house that owns its vineyards and produces its wine entirely on the same estate). I was introduced to Billiot by one of my mentors in this industry, master sommelier Chuck Furuya, whose palate and opinion I admire and always trust. He poured this stuff at his own wedding … that’s how you know it’s good.
Another solid bottling comes from the house of Louis Roederer ($80), the same folks who make Cristal (I think they might know a thing or two about great Champagne). This cuvee is vintage-dated and can be aged, so you could very well hold onto a bottle.
Chandra Lucariello is director of mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits. Ingredient note: The liquors and liqueurs used in these recipes are widely available from Oahu liquor stores and some supermarkets.