Sunday, July 18, 2010

Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial-Champagne as Summer Cocktail

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

A perfect summer's evening on the rooftop terrace of Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago provided the picturesque setting for the inaugural "cruise" of Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial, the world's first Champagne to be enjoyed on the rocks as a cocktail. Served in Reidel-styled stemless bowls, mixologists poured copious amounts of the golden-colored beverage and adorned each glass with either a sprig of fresh mint, ala that South Beach favorite, the Mojito, or with a twist of sliced white peach, reminiscent of the Belini of Harry's Bar and Ernest Hemingway fame.

About a hundred of Chicago's "most beautiful people" were on hand for this exclusive event. Views of the historic buildings of the city’s stunning skyline, showcased the Magnificient Mile, the Michigan Avenue Bridge, Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. Towering vistas enveloped the Terrace outside Trump’s award-winning Sixteen restaurant, dazzling the eye.

"I just love Moet and have always enjoyed it as a cocktail," said one enthusiastic imbiber. "I think it works perfectly as a cocktail or just on the rocks." The evening’s participants were doubly blessed, because they are, for now, the only Chicagoans who have had a chance to sample the new Champagne. It is only available at the world’s most exclusive, upscale resorts and, for just one night, the Terrace at Trump Tower Chicago, became a night on the Caribbean.

Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial is the world’s first and only vintage of ice Champagne. An exclusive blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, this new champagne has a tropical blend that emphasizes floral notes and fruit flavors that perform perfectly one the palate when poured over the rocks. There are hints of licorice and peppermint that make it a perfect accompaniment to light and imaginative hors d’oeuvres. There’s a back note of guava that gives it a seductive quality.
Add to that the distinctive white and gold-accented bottle and you have it all. As with all things reserved for only the most discriminating clientele, price has not been disclosed. But, expect it to rank right up there with the brand’s flagship Brut Reserves in the $119-$130 range. Its certainly the winemaker’s most ground-breaking event since the premium brand was established by Claude Moet in 1743.

The uninitiated may scoff at the idea of drinking Champagne on the rocks, but it is a practice that is common in Europe and the Mediterranean. I encountered it several years ago while visiting the French-influenced bistros of Marrakech. The French even have a word for it, “piscine,”which, in English, roughly translates to the idea of plunging into a pool. Not a bad thought on a hot summer’s day. Its not unusual in North Africa to see a linen-shirted would-be Pasha sipping a glass of Heineken on the rocks. Champagne suits my taste far better. Viva Moet!

Serving Ice Imperial on the rocks does nothing to diminish its stature. This is Champagne that literally exudes the essence of sophistication and class. It is elegance in a bottle!

The culinary staff of Trump Tower Chicago’s famed Sixteen restaurant provided the ideal flavor backdrop to the exquisite beverage- caviar, marinated shrimp and the hit of the evening and the chef’s coup de grace, tiny ice cream cones of imaginative flavors like pistachio and mango and iced raspberry “pushups.”

As the champagne flowed and the caviar on potato skin 'blinis' floated through the crowd, the DJ spun tropics-inspired sounds that seemed to enhance the "Love Boat" atmosphere of the evening, making it seem more like a cruise through the Isles of the Bahamas. The only thing missing was the ceremonial breaking of a bottle of Champagne to start the evening, but Ice Imperial is far too delicious to suffer that fate. The gentle cascade of its fine bubbles over ice will suffice.

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