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The Champagne of Floats

Bubbly and sorbet team up to create an instant classic

BY LAYLA SCHLACK

THE WORLD OWES A LOT to the French, culinarily speaking, but champagne — that near-universal symbol of celebration and morning-a er headaches — tops the list. But if you think it feels a little too formal to just kick back with a glass of bubbly on a summer afternoon, you haven’t tried it with a scoop of sorbet.

Tami Ratliffe, owner of Cafe Chloe in San Diego, is here to help. She calls her sorbet champagne mimosa a menu staple and uses locally sourced fruits and berries to make sorbets in-house. So far she’s combined champagne with Meyer lemon, heirloom melon and strawberry. The chemistry is similar to that of the more typical root beer and vanilla ice cream float — the sweetness and the bubbles so en one another.

And Chloe’s French bistro vibe makes you feel that even though you’re halfway around the world and not enjoying the bubbles straight up, the Gauls would approve.

For a more exclusive quaff , speakeasy-style New York cocktail lounge The Bourgeois Pig offers seasonal champagne floats — often with champagne-flavored sorbet, for an intense bubbly experience, and topped with a strawberry. They make their own sorbet as well, and as of press time couldn’t tell us what would be on the menu this summer, except to say there would be a champagne float. Locals will tell you whatever is being served is worth the trek to the East Village.

The best part about this growing trend is you can make a champagne float wherever you are. If you want to impress a crowd, try this concoction — for which The Bourgeois Pig was able to divulge the ingredients but not the full recipe. They say it was one of their most popular floats: champagne, homemade champagne sorbet, coconut reduction, celery bitters and lime syrup. (Frankly, if you’re making your own coconut reduction or celery bitters, color us impressed with or without the champagne.)

A good alternative, if you can get your hands on a bottle, is Moët & Chandon’s Ice Impérial. It’s the first champagne crafted specifically to be enjoyed over ice, but a scoop of lemon sorbet would do just as well. Now find a hammock and enjoy.

WE ALL SCREAM FOR LUXURY

Chicago’s best ice cream makers converge

A quandary: You’re wandering around Chicago on a hot, sunny day in July and you could really go for something cool and creamy. Problem is, there are too many choices. Do you go for the award-winning goat cheese and caramel flavor at Black Dog Gelato? Nice Cream’s lavender vanilla ice cream made with Michigan lavender? Anything from the fantastically named Snookelfritz?

Splurge on all three at the Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival (July 9-10) at the Grand Piazza on Taylor Street. The $25 admission buys you tastes of treats from those purveyors, plus several others, including national brands Ciao and Via. Dessert artisans such as Michelle Garcia of Bleeding Heart Bakery and Jérôme Landrieu of the Barry-Callebaut Chocolate Academy will be hosting workshops teaching visitors how to make their own decadent concoctions. It all culminates in the Great Chicago Brain Freeze, which is much more pleasant than it sounds: Chefs compete to create the best ice cream, and you decide. Does it get any better?

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