Recently, I found myself working on a traditional Christmastime cocktail recipe for Serious Eats: the Soyer au Champagne. A rather unique pairing of champagne and vanilla ice cream with a couple splashes of liqueur, it is most certainly a dessert cocktail and a rather oddball one at that. Those who enjoy champagne know that it is most frequently enjoyed in its drier, crisper incarnations—a strange bedfellow for a rich, sweet, velvety custard. But the combination can work (particularly when you use a sweeter sparkling wine), and sipping on one I couldn’t help but imagine the varied possibilities for the form… especially when I considered a mash-up with one of our favorite champagne cocktails.
Enter, then, David Lebovitz’s recipe for absinthe ice cream, which had been eyeballing my Cuisinart ICE-50BC ice cream maker for some time. We are lovers of anise in this house, so absinthe ice cream wasn’t much of a stretch, and we drink a slightly embarrassing number of Death in the Afternoons when we have sparkling wine in the house. Naturally, I couldn’t help myself. After much experimentation, here is the result—and a delicious one, at that!
2 Tbsp absinthe ice cream made without chocolate chunks
1 Tbsp pastis or absinthe (such as Legendre Herbsaint)
1 tsp Grand Marnier
3 oz extra dry, sec or demi-sec sparkling wine, champagne or prosecco
Add the ice cream and liqueurs to a champagne coupe or cocktail glass. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with a slice of orange or tangerine.
I was mostly sure this drink would work, but there’s always a huge margin of error when you’re experimenting with cocktail recipes. It took quite a few rounds of mixing and testing to figure out how (and if) it could be done, but the Grand Marnier clinches this recipe. The original Soyer au Champagne uses brandy and curaçao, and the sweetness and depth of the Marnier really works well here. It’s a delicious, slightly decadent combination that balances sweet and savory, and one that would be a lovely end to a meal.