In the fall of 2015, we went on a grand adventure to Italy. For about a week, we stayed at the gorgeous Villa la Massa just outside Florence. It was right about the end of their season, so we got to know their staff fairly well. In addition to a wonderful spa and inspired restaurant, they had a gem in their bar. Silvano and Luciano were their names and they had skills like I’ve never seen. They’ve won awards and European cocktail contests and have the personalities to match. Hilarious and eager for feedback, we tried about 8 permutations of their cocktail that went on to win silver at the European Cocktail Championship.
This drink is my take on their morning cocktail. Part Bellini, part Kir Royale, this drink pairs sparkling wine with strawberries and a touch of balsamic vinegar. I’d never had anything like it and came back feeling inspired to emulate it. Since I have the luxury of being at home with a lot more time, this drink sort of became a couple hour project but I promise it is worth it.
Equipment: saucepan, colander or cheesecloth, funnel, glass bottle with tight fitting lid, champagne flutes
Sparkling wine (preferably a Cava)
2 cups raw sugar (demerara is my favorite)
1 lb strawberries, reserve 5-6 for garnish (depending on how many servings you need)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups water
Place strawberries (tops removed), sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat. Once mixture has started to bubble, turn flame down to low and stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved and strawberries are falling apart. This usually takes about 25-30 minutes. Strain into glass bottle and add balsamic vinegar and shake bottle to combine. This should have a wonderful sweet and tart flavor. Keep bottle in refrigerator.
Remove strawberry mixture from refrigerator and add 1 ounce to each champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine (make sure to pour down the side very slowly, its going to fizz A LOT) and add a strawberry (or two!) for garnish. Cheers!