IF YOU NEED a special occasion to break out the bubbly, here’s one: It’s been 50 years since South Africa’s Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) wines were first introduced. After traveling to the Champagne region of France in 1968, Cape winemaker Frans Malan started work on his own sparkling wine back home. His first bottles were produced from his 1971 harvest; the Méthode of the MCC designation is the method by which a second fermentation of the wine takes place within the bottle. The process is true to the original Champagne production, but MCC is South African through and through.
Pear brandy made just east of Cape Town adds complexity to the glass, while the simple lace-like garnish adds to the Classique’s delicate, herbal profile.
Despite the country’s winemaking tradition, South Africa’s premier sparkling wine remained relatively unknown. Its rising profile demanded a namesake bar. “When it comes to MCC, I guess there’s not as big of a following [as there is] for gin,” said James Meredith, manager of Cape Town’s Gin Bar. “That's why we decided to open up the MCC Bar [adjacent to the Gin Bar], to make people more aware that there is a lot more out there than just these big brands that are dominating the market.” The bar offers flights, so you can discover your favorite region for the bubbly; South Africa’s diverse Winelands stretch from mountains to bushland to beach, where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean.
Meanwhile, the Gin Bar specializes in South African varieties of gin. “Gin is such a big spirit in South Africa, mainly the Western Cape, because of our diverse floral kingdom,” explains Meredith. “All of those plants change, so you just expect something different every single time.”
To get a taste for both the local gin and MCC wines, Meredith created the Classique cocktail. The original creation was inspired by the classic French 75 cocktail, and he says anyone who loves Champagne cocktails will enjoy the Classique. The Triple Three African Botanicals gin also gives you another way to taste the unique botanicals of the region. Pear brandy made just east of Cape Town adds complexity to the glass, while the simple lace-like garnish adds to the Classique’s delicate, herbal profile. He’d recommend it “... if you like Champagne and you drink Champagne often.” No special occasion required.
- 25 ml Triple Three African Botanicals gin (or any floral gin)
- 25 ml Triple Three Williams Pear brandy (or pear schnapps)
- 25 ml lemon juice
- 25 ml fresh green apple juice
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Top up of dry Méthode Cap Classique (MCC)
- Baby’s breath flowers (Gypsophila species, or similar)
- Add gin, pear spirit, lemon juice, fresh green apple juice, and bitters to cocktail shaker.
- Shake vigorously.
- Double strain into a chilled coupe.
- Top up with Cap Classique.
- Garnish with baby's breath flowers. Gypsophila has white or pink flowers with a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Jessica Suarez Writer
Jessica Suarez is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Grant Cornett Photographer
Grant Cornett is a photographer and director based in Upstate New York. He likes to take pictures of pristine detritus and austere moments.