Raise your glass, the Sparkling Sauce, J. Paul's

December is a month-long fete with friends in my world.

It makes sense: The schmaltzy, sentimental bug bites and I cram in visits with all of my favorite people, reminiscing about the year past and spreading good cheer before we all return to our respective family homes for the holiday. All of that nostalgia is usually accompanied by rounds of celebratory drinks and toasts and, as a result, I end up drinking more champagne now than at any other point in the year.

But truth be told? I kind of hate champagne. Yep. Sorry. I'm always happy to raise a pretty flute of it, but champagne really does nothing for me except give me a splitting headache and a dry mouth. Even a mimosa is a little too much acidity for my palate to handle. So I was thrilled to order, and love, the Sparkling Sauce from J. Paul's Harbor Place: the perfect little sip for the season.

The aspiring cocktail program at the Inner Harbor dining saloon is a rather eclectic collection of mixes using fresh ingredients and premium liquors. Sarah Conlin, area director for J. Paul's, tries to pack the menu with "combinations that are unique without being 'scary' … we always want you to be intrigued," she said. The Sparkling Sauce, their newest offering, fits that bill. "We wanted [to make] a cocktail for brunch that wasn't just the standard Mimosa. So, we took the champagne and did something more appropriate for winter mornings," she said.

The presence of fresh apple cider, the main ingredient, brings forth warm, cozy childhood memories of eating apple sauce. Except, well, this sauce is kicked up a notch by an equal portion of the bubbly. The final ingredient, Domaine de Canton, adds a surprising bit of spice. Though the French liqueur is ginger based, it drinks like a cinnamon topper. The drink is layered and sweet, but not too sweet to enjoy over a wintry breakfast.

The Sparkling Sauce is guaranteed to put you in the mood to reminisce the past year and toast to the new one.

How to Make

The Sparkling Sauce

2 oz. fresh apple cider

2 oz. champagne

1/2 oz. Domaine de Canton

Pour into a chilled champagne flute and serve.

Where to Get The Sparkling Sauce

J. Paul's Harbor Place

301 Light St., Inner Harbor




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