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The Woodlands Houston, Texas, December 2016 … “I am drinking stars,” declared an awed and enraptured Dom Perignon, the French monk who is credited with inventing the world’s most dazzling drink – Champagne.  A celebration in a glass, we break out the bubbly for life’s loveliest moments, marking weddings, christenings, graduations, promotions and holidays. Winning teams spray it over each other in victory. Ever optimistic, we raise a glass to welcome in the New Year. Champagne launches ships, sparks romance and imparts glamor and sophistication to any occasion.  Its effervescence inspires striking presentations, bubbling from a fountain or cascading over a pyramid of crystal glasses.

Champagne sparkles on the Silver Screen in scenes from moviedom’s most iconic and romantic films: Rick and Ilse clinking glasses in Casablanca; 007 ordering Bollinger or Dom Perignon in almost every Bond film; Holly Golightly polishing off a few flutes before Breakfast at Tiffany’s; The Great Gatsby toasting his guests as the 20s roared around him. And who can forget Gigi and The Night They Invented Champagne!

With the holidays here and a New Year on the way, mixologists at nine Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Gemstone Collection properties offer their innovations on serving Champagne with cocktails that celebrate life, love and libations. Local and seasonal ingredients come into play: Hudson Valley apple cider, a Colorado craft gin, Florida Hibiscus - and to add a little Italian flair, two of the recipes defy tradition and use Prosecco to make the perfect cocktail of sparkling wine.

Benchmark Resorts & Hotels Celebratory Champagne Recipes

The Chattanoogan Hotel, Chattanooga, TN
“Foundry 75” ~ their take on a French 75

1/2 ounce Raspberry /Lemon Infused Vodka
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
1/4 ounce Fresh Lemon
4 ounces Champagne
Garnish Lemon Twist
Glass Flute

Pour into flute measured 1/2 ounce of infused vodka.
Add 1/2 ounce simple syrup and 1/4 ounce fresh lemon and stir.
Pour 4 ounces of champagne into flute.
Garnish with lemon twist and enjoy.

Chaminade Resort & Spa, Santa Cruz, CA
“Chaminade Paloma”

1.5 oz Patrón Reposado Tequila
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
.5 oz Agave Nectar
½ Lime Squeeze

Top Off With Cava Freixenet
Dash of Salt

Doral Arrowwood Resort, Rye Brook (historic Westchester County), NY
“Spiced Apple Cider Champagne Cocktail”

2 ounces Hudson Valley Cider or apple brandy
2 ounces fresh apple cider
3 to 4 ounces chilled Champagne
Top with apple slices and a cinnamon stick.

The Inn at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

1 fl oz Campari
1.25fl oz Sweet Vermouth

Shake Campari and Sweet Vermouth in Ice, pour into Champagne flute.
Fill to top with Prosecco. Garnish with Lemon Twist.

Turtle Bay Resort, North Shore, Oahu, HI
“ISLAND THYME: a Pa’akai Craft Cocktail”

1 ¼ oz Hendricks Gin
½ oz. St. Germain (elder flower liqueur)
1 ½ oz. Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
A float of dry champagne, recommend Roeder Estate
Fresh lemon twist (peel)
Sprig of Thyme (gives an aromatic smell while you sip and enhances the Hendricks gin)

Mix the Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and ice in a shaker.
Pour into a martini glass, use drink strainer to hold the ice.
Add a float of the dry champagne.
Garnish with lemon twist and a sprig of thyme.

Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Colorado Springs, CO
Vanilla-Cran Mimosa”

1 ½ ounces of Vanilla Absolut Vodka
1 ½ ounces of Cranberry Juice
Prosecco Champagne
Fresh Cranberries
Rosemary Sprigs

In a champagne flute, combine the vodka and cranberry juice then top off with Prosecco. Garnish with three fresh cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Gemstone Collection Celebratory Champagne Recipes

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO
The Pomegranate French 75”

1.5 oz Lee’s Dry Gin
½ oz fresh lemon juice
4 oz Prosecco
½ oz Pama Pomegranate Liquor
Lemon Twist
Float pomegranate seeds
Served in a Coupe

Using zester or paring knife, slice peel from lemon in long, thin spiral. Reserve lemon for juice and set peel aside.
In cocktail shaker, combine Lee’s Dry Gin, lemon juice, and Pama Pomegranate Liquor. Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into chilled Champagne Coupe and top with sparkling wine.
Curl lemon peel around finger to create twist at least 6 inches long. Garnish drink with twist, float pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

The Essex Resort & Spa. Essex (Burlington), VT
“The Essex Poinsettia”

3 oz. Avissi Prosecco
½ oz. Grand Marnier
¼ oz. Lillet
2 oz. Cranberry and Herb Coulis

To make the cranberry coulis place a pint of cranberries, ½ cup maple syrup, orange zest, sprig of sage and rosemary and pint of water in a small saucepan.  Set over medium heat, bring to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil reduce the heat to a simmer; cook until the cranberries pop open.  Blend, strain and chill the sauce and set aside until making the cocktail.
Mix chilled Lillet and Grand Mariner into your serving glass, then add Prosecco slowly followed by the chilled Cranberry and Herb Coulis.
Garnish with slivers of cranberry and a sprig of fresh sage and rosemary. 

Costa d'Este Beach Resort & Spa, 7-time Grammy Award-winning Gloria & Emilio Estefan’s resort in Vero Beach, FL  GC
Hibiscus Berry Infused Champagne Cocktail”
This Hibiscus Champagne Cocktail is enhanced with Hibiscus vodka to provide a tanginess fruit flavor sure to impress all your guests this holiday season.

Hibiscus flower in syrup
1 ½ ounces (one shot) of Jewel of Russia Berry-infused vodka, chilled
Champagne, chilled
Place 1 hibiscus flower in the bottom of a champagne glass.  Add vodka and then top off glass with champagne. Serve immediately.  Repeat entire recipe for as many cocktails are needed.

About Benchmark Resorts & Hotels®

Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® features the finest in lodging, dining, recreational and meeting accommodations.  Featuring unique and distinctive properties renown for exceptional service and for creating unforgettable memory-making experiences, it is the signature portfolio of BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, which has been a leading US-based hospitality management company for nearly 40 years.  Many Benchmark Resort & Hotels' properties are certified by IACC, the association that represents the finest meeting venues and services globally, and many have also been recognized with the coveted Benchmark Conference Centers® certification of meeting excellence.

Contact: Ken Ellens / 201-758-2864

About Gemstone Collection

The Gemstone Collection includes distinctive hand-picked properties in spectacular and popular U.S. destinations coast to coast. Each upscale resort and hotel destination provides highly-personalized service and luxury reflective of the charm and unique character of the destination, while in keeping with the collection’s shared mission and passion for excellence.  A distinguished portfolio of BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, which has been a leading US-based hospitality management company for nearly 40 years, the Gemstone Collection is the preferred choice of guests who yearn for inspiring and transformative experiences, customization over conformity, stimulation over predictability, and adventure over routine.

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