Happy Hour: Bargain Bubbly

by Diana Vilibert

Happy almost New Year! I can tell you guys are looking forward to this one, because I’ve been getting emails since like October asking for champagne and sparkling wine suggestions. The key word in each of those emails? “Cheap.” I’ll admit I can sometimes have expensive taste when it comes to alcohol, but it’s one thing to splurge when making drinks for three or four friends. When it comes to providing the bubbly for your friends, their friends, and that girl that you meet at every party whose name you still don’t know, though, I’m with you — the cheaper the better … as long as it doesn’t taste cheap.

So, I did what I had to do and drank my way through December. Here are a few of my favorites, $13 and under (plus recipes, if you’re going that route).


Light, refreshing, and not too sweet, this fruity choice is one of my favorites (and Jacob’s Creek is generally a great pick for under-$15 wine).

2 oz Jacob’s Creek Sparking Rose Moscato
1 oz Beefeter gin 24
 .5 oz Lemon Juice
 .25 oz Simple syrup
 .25 oz Crème de Mure

Directions: Build all ingredients in a highball glass over crushed ice. Top with Jacobs Creek Sparkling Rose Moscato.


Freixenet makes some of the best cavas, and this one is the #1 imported sparkling wine in the world. It’s crisp and citrusy, with tastes of apple and pear, too. This one also comes in single-serving sizes for $3, which I love! (So much classier than single-serving vodka, for some reason.)

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut
Sugar cube
Angostura bitters

Directions: Place the sugar cube in a glass. Soak it with Angostura. Fill the glass with chilled cava.


This dry sparkling wine comes from California, not France, so it’s not a real champagne … but at $6 a bottle, who cares? Cook’s adds a dosage of brandy to this one, so it’s more vanilla-y than fruity.

 .25 oz brandy
 .75 oz ruby port
 .75 oz orange juice (no pulp)
4 oz Cook’s Grand Reserve

Directions: Pour brandy, port, and orange juice into a shaker with ice, shake well, and strain into a champagne flute. Top with Cook’s Grand Reserve.


Fruity but not overly so, good with food (bring on the cheese plate), and doesn’t taste like a $10 bottle. Definitely among the best proseccos when you’re bargain-shopping.

3 oz Mionetto Prosecco
3 oz orange juice
1 oz St. Germain

Directions: Mix, stir, and enjoy.

Previously: Some Like It Hot.

Diana Vilibert drinks and writes in Brooklyn.