Cocktail Corner: Champagne Cocktail

Try this classic!

By Rose Andres, WAC Bartender

First appearing in “professor” Jerry Thomas’ 1862 bartender’s guide, The Bon Vivant’s Companion, the Champagne cocktail is one of the few drinks to retain its basic form for more than a hundred years. The oldest recipes combine Champagne and a bitters-soaked sugar cube for a sweetened bubbly treat. Since then, the Champagne cocktail has undergone a few revisions. In 1889, John Dougherty added brandy to his Champagne cocktail, winning a New York bartending competition. Liquor and Champagne proved to be a natural pair—another adaptation of the era is called the Casino, which replaces bitters with absinthe and a float of good cognac.

Champagne cocktails of all kinds eventually earned the nickname “Chorus Girl’s Milk” after chorus line dancersí purported penchant for the fizzy mixture. Despite detractors who consider additions to fine vintage Champagne sacrilege, the Champagne cocktail has withstood the test of time. So many variations exist using different bitters, garnish and liquors that the possibilities are limited only by your imaginationóand the contents of your liquor cabinet.

Rose’s Champagne Cocktail

  • Sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 3 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine
  • ½ oz. cognac or brandy

Add bitters to a sugar cube and place in a Champagne flute. Top with brandy and Champagne.

Garnish with a citrus peel or cherry. Cheers!

Note: Don’t use loose sugar or crush the cube. The slowly melting cube creates bubbles.

As published in the January/February 2017 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted January 13, 2017


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