The Cocktail Issue: Winetails

When I say "winetail" do you think of wine-based margaritas that taste like sugar and lemon candy?

click to enlarge The Cocktail Issue: Winetails
Chris Fasick

When I say “winetail” do you think of wine-based margaritas that taste like sugar and lemon candy? Don’t. Winetails, true cocktails made with wine, don’t mimic your favorite mixed drinks — they offer you a mixed beverage in a class all its own.

Likely, you’ve had a mimosa — Champagne and orange juice, the day-drinking choice for sorority girls and suburbanites everywhere. Or sangria, the iced drink of dry red wine, fruit, orange liqueur and brandy (or, as I once made it, rum) for those times when you want to feel like you’re drinking, but still, well, drink. Those are two lightweight versions. Real winetails take it higher and keep it classy. Bonus? Unlike wine-based cocktails (I like to call it the “No-garita”), these actually taste good and have less alcohol in them, which means if you have one at brunch you’re not done for the rest of the day.

And here’s the other thing: If you’re unsure about which wine to order — I mean, seriously, have you seen some of our local restaurant and bar wine lists? — go with a winetail. It’s less of a risk that you’ll get something you don’t like. Sake- and sparkling-based winetails abound in Tampa Bay. You can order a winetail from places like Seminole Heights’ Rooster & the Till and St. Pete’s soon-to-open Reading Room, or try a French 75 to start. As you feel bolder, move toward red wine-based winetails like a Stormy Weather, a bastardization (but, um, in a good way) of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy.

Negroni Sbagliato

Makes 1

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 ounce Campari

1 ounce sparkling wine

Orange peel

Fill a rocks glass with ice and add Campari, sweet vermouth and sparkling wine. Stir until chilled. Garnish with an orange peel.