Monday, June 10, 2013

The Invention of Albertine: Confession of an Epicurean

―by guest writer AlbertCAN

“Indeed, my roving mind was busy with a thousand projects: a novel, travel, a play, marketing a fruit cocktail of my own invention. (Don’t ask for the recipe; I have forgotten it.)”
 ~Jean-Dominique Bauby, «Le Scaphandre et le Papillon» (1997)

Lucid intoxication is the best tease: a demure wink, the deft nudge. L'Art de la séduction interdite. With verve and panache, an exquisite intrigue is truly a meeting of the minds, for the transcendent provocation can only be mischievous when done right; any more or less the pas de deux of sensuality goes awry.

Regina Lambert: Oh, did they do that kind of thing way back in your day?
Peter Joshua: Sure. How do you think I got here?*

Thus the psyche was in full epicurean swing when putting together my new signature champagne cocktail one recent morning, which took all but one nifty trial. Elena initially half-jokingly referred to it as Albertini—lovely idea, but the recipe’s lack of gin and vermouth called for a slightly different signature, so Albertine it was christened.

I have the recipe below, and true to my style it’s deceptively simple: always get the best quality ingredients one could afford when effortless chic is called for.

photo copyrighted by AlbertCAN


One 750 mL bottle Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin brut champagne, well chilled
One carton (1 L) of unsweetened pineapple juice, well chilled
One bottle of orange blossom water
Twelve classic 6 oz. champagne flutes
Serves twelve: In each flûte à champagne add ¼ teaspoon of orange blossom water and ¼ cup of pineapple juice. The flute should be half full at this point. Top off with brut champagne. Serve immediately.

Vierge Albertine: Non-alcoholic variation. Substitute the champagne with equal part unflavoured sparkling water. (I prefer Perrier or San Pellegrino.)

Of course, the recipe in practice has plenty of savoir-faire in spades: get a 350 mL bottle of brut bubbly to halve the serving for an intimate six, or multiply thereafter according to one’s entertainment needs. Even compatible with all champagne glasses so long the master ratio below is followed:

¼ teaspoon orange blossom water for every ¼ cup unsweetened pineapple; half juice, half champagne in each glass.

I selected Veuve Clicquot because the aromatic bouquet is exceedingly smooth and intricate—not to mention beautifully priced in my end of Canada —yet frankly any dry sparkling wine of quality shall suffice. The operative words here being, of course, quality and sensibility: a delicate Prosecco could easily step in, but anything too cheaply priced is probably just, well, too cheap in taste. As for the exclusive editions of Perrier-Jouët, Louis Roederer Cristal and Dom Pérignon are definitely not expected—but who am I to say no to Dom Pérignon at a perfect moment?

Now a word of caution: Albertine, not unlike the eponymous heroine in Proust’s «À la recherche du temps perdu», goes down smooth and lingers on. An undisciplined can easily glean over six servings at once! So please experiment responsibly.

The champagne cocktail is dedicated to Jean-Dominique Bauby, whose memoir “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” honed my aesthetics many moons ago.

"My diving bell becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas's court. You can visit the woman you love, slide down beside her and stroke her still-sleeping face. You can build castles in Spain, steal the Golden Fleece, discover Atlantis, realise your childhood dreams and adult ambitions." -Jean Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

* Quotes from “Charade” (1963)


  1. Anonymous09:39

    What an uplifting post, Albert! This sounds like such a happy drink and I shall look forward to trying your creation this weekend -if the weather is bad, the Albertine will make it seem sunny.

  2. Jillie,

    anything involving champagne just makes things look better, isn't it so?

  3. Anonymous18:08

    Dear Elena - Absolutely!

  4. Well, it's nice to have great champagne or pineapple juice on their own, but the orange blossom water is a treat everyone should give themselves - in and on oneself.


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