“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” — Emily Post
I’d like to come back around to brunch drinks again this week and, at the same time, proffer a solution to something that has always vexed me as a host. Not a problem per se, but more of a hosting hiccup, is this: As a host who intends to serve cocktails (is expected, really, to serve cocktails), how do I show gratitude when someone brings me a bottle of wine? Traditional etiquette says that I should open the bottle as a show of appreciation, yet by doing so I commit the guest to drinking their own wine instead of one of the drinks I had intended to make for them. In addition, since no one wants to gift wine the host will not like, host-gift wine is usually uninteresting, if always firmly palatable.
So uncork that bottle of white wine (because who brings a red to brunch?) and, smiling, do in this wise:
Into a large wine glass 2/3 filled with cubed ice, pour 1.5 oz Campari (or Aperol or Cynar — whatever you’ve got that’s a little sweet and bitter), then fill with equal parts white wine and seltzer. Garnish with a slice of citrus (I like orange) and serve.
The result is a refreshing aperitivo, impressive in its resourcefulness, and a great way to whet the appetite for a long afternoon of food, drink, conversation, and merriment. If you’d like to up the octane level, add a splash of gin (or rum or tequila…) and don’t be shy about messing with the recipe to suit the wine and the occasion — this is a framework more than a specific drink recipe.
The astute observer may note the similarity to the Italian Spritz,and this is not coincidental. Walk the streets of Venice in the evening and the alleys echo with social chatter and the clink-clink of iced wine goblets filled with pale orange and red spritzes, passionate, elegant, effortless. Yes, please. I call the drinks that result from this method Spritzes a braccio: Spritzes off-the-cuff. May joyful laughter and witty repartee mingle beneath skillful hospitality, and may happiness abound.