Champagne toast in Miami

Krug Moments and Moet Ice

The holiday season is a potent time. A period overflowing with self-reflection, projections for the future and what can seem like a never-ending series of celebrations. Miami, which is famously regarded as the party capital of the world, is no stranger to clinking glasses and double-sized bottles stuffed with sparklers.

For most, celebrations and champagne go hand in hand. And sometimes those hands make that crisp champagne get warm. There’s nothing worse than trying to think positively about who you are today and who you’re going to be tomorrow while drinking a room temperature glass of bubbly.

Fortunately for us, a brilliant winemaker at Moet & Chandon spent years formulating a recipe that’s intended to be served over ice. Moet Ice Imperial is the first of its kind in the world and, not surprisingly, made an exclusive debut in Miami Beach in 2011. It has since quietly spread to other markets, making a subtle surge within posh poolside communities.

This innovative gem is reason enough to jump up and make a toast. It’s clean and round with a hint of citrus. To awaken these notes, you can add a mint sprig and a lemon twist, freshly diced peaches, or fresh ginger root.

“As the ice breaks down in the glass, the first sip is legitimately as good as the last,” says Paige Pederson, national press director for Moet & Chandon.

While you’ve probably heard that before, you should suspend all skepticism and go in search of Moet Ice. Currently, you will only find it at the most aristocratic establishments like the Fontainbleau Miami Beach resort, the Ritz-Carlton South Beach and Key Biscayne, the Soho Beach House, the Mondrian, The Standard, and in Palm Beach at The Breakers. It will hit store shelves soon, but the exact date in 2012 has yet to be released.

Michael Parish, beverage manager of the new Philippe restaurant in the South of Fifth area of South Beach, is fond of sexy champagne cocktails that pack a powerful punch.

“Women often reach for cocktails in a champagne flute because it’s a more elegant and refined look,” says Parish. “It’s certainly a lot less messy and played out than a martini glass.”

While it may seem as though these fanciful drinks are a relatively new craze, they’ve actually been around for nearly a century. For your next celebratory outing, Parish suggests the Shanghai Philippe, a variation of the classic French 75, a cocktail that debuted in Paris in 1915. Parish’s version features champagne, vodka or gin, fresh strawberry, elderflower liqueur and citrus. He uses the champagne as an accent to complement the fresh fruit.

During a recent visit to his Miami outpost DB Moderne Bistro, world-famous chef Daniel Boulud and his longtime mixologist Xavier Herit introduced foodies and cocktail lovers to their new book Cocktails & Amuse-Bouches, a two-volume collection – one for her and one for him – of innovative takes on classic cocktails and recipes from Boulud’s New York City restaurant, Daniel.
In the book “for him,” Herit spotlights his masculine interpretation of the French 75 which is a simplistic and very French combination of champagne, Cointreau, and bitters. He uses champagne in his French 65 to bring out the dryness and the bubbles and suggests paying close attention to the special aroma of the cocktail before you continue celebrating.
“Sometimes the simplest things are the best,” says Herit.
Why 65? Simply, that’s the restaurant’s street address.
For hardcore traditionalists, good champagne should (and will) be consumed before it has the chance to get warm or be modified in a cocktail. Josh Wagner and John Lermayer, two local aficionados, are spreading the champagne gospel in Miami with the help of an old school name. For more than 200 years, Krug has maintained a sound reputation for being one of the most prestigious houses in world.

“People automatically associate fine champagne with black tie affairs and five-course meals, but it’s not all about that,” says Wagner. “We’re here to bring people joy and show them that they shouldn’t have to take things too seriously, especially when it comes to drinking.”

High quality fun without the all of the usual pomp and circumstance seems hard to achieve in a glitzy nightlife town. As official ambassadors, the two are committed to cultivating experiences to introduce a younger generation to the esteemed brand with what they call “Krug Moments.” The events typically begin as unassuming meetings of like-minded young professionals in unassuming locations in Miami and then climax with a full-blown Krug tasting and education.

“When we unveil the magnums of champagne, everyone automatically asks, ‘What are we celebrating?’ We say, ‘We’re celebrating you’,” says Wagner.

If you don’t have access to these events or if tough economic times are holding you back from spending a small fortune on a bottle, there are plenty of affordable options for creating your own special moments. Look for labels like Taittinger La Française ($45), Piper-Heidsieck Brut ($35), and Nicolas Feuillatte Brut ($30). The Piper-Heidsieck is highly acclaimed for its mouthwatering freshness and balanced acidity with a reasonable price tag.

With all of these reasons to celebrate, why wait for a holiday to create a new tradition?
Meet Michael Parish at the new Philippe Miami, 36 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 305-674-0250


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