Wine Cocktails at 13 Celsius

When you think of a wine bar, cocktails aren't generally the first drink that springs to mind. And even at 13 Celsius (3000 Caroline), where wine-based cocktails (and a few beer-based cocktails, too) have been a staple for many months now, it's still not the first thing that people order off the expansive drink menu.

But those that haven't sampled the cocktail offerings are missing out.

On a recent visit for the weekly wine and cupcake night on Tuesdays ($10 for a cupcake and a wine pairing from a choice of two freshly-baked Jodycakes cupcakes), I decided to branch out from my usual order of "Whatever you like today, Marc," and instead ordered a sunny-looking Petit Hiboux, which translates into "little owl" in French.

I tend to associate owls with creaky barn rafters and milky, starless nights. Its namesake cocktail at 13 Celsius has no such crepuscular tendencies, however, and is instead a ray of sunshine in a glass.

Made with bright sauvignon blanc, citrusy Lillet blanc, apple juice and a twist of lemon over ice, the Petit Hiboux is an utterly refreshing summer cocktail -- almost a French version of a white sangria, sans the pieces of fruit floating around the glass.

My friend's cocktail was darker, but equally refreshing: A Lillet rouge spritz, a simple concoction of Lillet rouge, sparkling wine and a twist of orange. Because most of the cocktails on the menu have intriguing names like the Ingrid Bergman, the Management and The Saint, the Lillet rouge spritzer seems to be saddled with a shrinking violet-style name despite its deliciousness.

I wonder if the owners of 13 Celsius know that Lillet rouge over ice with a twist of orange was the preferred drink of fiction serial killer Hannibal Lecter. If not, I have a name suggestion for them.

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