2024 is at our doorstep and I’ve unearthed a delicious sparkling wine and booze combo ideal for New Year’s Eve or any celebration. Be forewarned, however; this one comes with a hidden hard liquor depth charge that demands respect.
West 75th is a variation on another classic NYE-friendly beverage, the French 75. While some versions of that drink allow for Prosecco in place of Champagne, West 75th, as borrowed/adapted from Difford’s Guide, goes further by specifying Prosecco and then replaces gin with apple brandy, simple syrup for raspberry syrup, and adds orange bitters. The taste is so deceptively fruity and easygoing you might immediately want another and then another. Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or argue over time travel and/or alternate universe plots.
1 ounce apple brandy
2-3 ounces Prosecco
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
One teaspoon or ¼ ounce raspberry syrup
1-2 dashes orange bitters (recipe specifies Angostura orange but other brands may be fine)
Combine the ingredients except for the sparkling wine in a cocktail shaker. Agitate vigorously and strain the liquid into a chilled champagne flute. Top with chilled Prosecco — carefully. Brief foamy overflows are possible. Sip gently and note the refreshment that hides the poison within!
I think West 75th is one of my better recent discoveries. It’s refreshing and “quaffable” – as Difford’s puts it. (I’ve liked this word since I first heard it uttered by Paul Giamatti’s compulsive oenophile in 2004’s Sideways.)
However, there is a different version of West 75th. Liquor.com tells us the original was created by Torrence O’Haire of The Gage, a tony Chicago restaurant where you can get a Thai chicken curry for $39.00. In adapting the drink, Difford’s made two big changes. The drink at The Gage calls for Cleto Chiarli Pruno Nero Lambrusco – a sweet red sparkler — instead of a drier white or rose Prosecco. It also specifically calls for Calvados, French apple brandy which is a tad less sweet and more appley than the American product known colloquially as applejack. If Lambrusco is your jam, give it a try.
My American base spirits were 100-proof Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy and Straight Applejack 86 from the same firm; Busnel Fine Calvados was my decadent European pomme derivative. My sparkly Proseccos were Belliti and Zonin. Someone online mentioned that rose Proseccos were especially good in the West 75th so I picked up a bottle of Menage a Trois rose, not realizing it wasn’t labeled as Prosecco. It didn’t matter much. Nor did it matter much when I mistakenly switched from Angostura orange bitters to regular Angostura aromatic bitters.
My favorite West 75th iterations were those with 100-proof Lairds, which is the most flavorful of the three spirits I tried. However, the straightforward apple notes of the Busnel Calvados were nicely buffered by the other ingredients. Straight Applejack 86 is at an excellent price point while still being 100 percent real apple brandy and the West 75ths I made with it were fine.
Returning to the bubblies, I have to say that the non-Prosecco Menage a Trois rose was especially good in combination with my apple brandies. The Zonin was a close second and Bellitti was just a little less wondrous.
Note: Drink of the Week will be taking a month-long break in observance of Dry January. Will I observe Dry January personally, you ask? Mine will be a dryer January, for sure since I won’t be researching these posts. Damp January is a strong possibility.