Seconds after walking into a dinner party last Sunday night, a guest thrust a shot glass of sparkling grape juice into my hand.
"Try this," he urged.
The non-alcoholic drink tasted like something you might serve at a Sweet 16 party. It was sweet and bubbly with a slight sour finish to give it a kick of sophistication. Frankly, I wasn't impressed.
But it turns out this wasn't just any Martinelli's or Trader Joe's variety of carbonated juice. It was a high-end German sparkler by Sekthaus Raumland, available on sale at two bottles for $20 at Wing Hop Fung* in Monterey Park. $10 for a bottle of fizzy Welch's? I don't think so.
But then I witnessed a little alchemy. Pour the Sweet 16 stuff on the rocks, add equal parts vodka and suddenly you have a drink worthy of a cocktail party on the veranda or an end-of-day "I've been working in the garden" pick-me-up. Seriously refreshing. Seriously deliciious. Seriously intoxicating.
I guess all those generations of teenagers spiking punch bowls with vodka had it right all along.
(*an unlikely but highly recommended wine store set in an apothecary/tea store)