The Black Velvet Drink combines two alcoholic beverages you probably would not pair intuitively: Irish Stout, usually (and ideally) Guinness, and champagne.
When first hearing about this beer cocktail, I was highly doubtful that this could lead to anything remotely enjoyable. Not least because, while I do appreciate a glass of bubbly, I'm not such a big fan of Stout. It's alright in an Irish pub, but frankly, that is where my enthusiasm for the dark beer ends.
Having said that, I must admit that the idea of beer and bubbly seemed intriguing. Well, surprisingly, I found it quite agreeable.
Quick Facts Black Velvet Cocktail
- Method: built in glass
- Flavor profile: mild, slightly dry & fruity, malty
- How to serve it: chilled
- Glassware: champagne flute
- Alcohol content: ~ 8% ABV, 15 grams per serving
Even if you're not the Stout type - or not the champagne type- give the Black Velvet Drink a shot. It might surprise you, as well.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Champagne Flute
- 4 oz Guinness
- 4 oz Sparkling wine
- Fill a Champagne flute halfway with ice-cold Guinness and let it settle for a few seconds.
- Then carefully top it up with equally chilled Champagne. You can also use a bar spoon and pour the sparkly over it. That will reduce the potential risk of foaming up and overflowing. Cheers!
What Champagne in a Black Velvet Drink?
Basically, you can go with any type of bubbly for the Black Velvet Drink - from Cava to Prosecco and Sekt to Champagne, as long as it is not too sweet. I recommend looking out for either brut or extra dry on the label.
Yet, for most, mixing an expensive, luxurious ingredient like champagne with something as intense and robust as a Stout beer might be a bit of a waste. - I cannot argue with that because I feel the same.
Therefore, I like to use a dry Spanish Cava like Freixenet or Campo Viejo. -If you want your drink to be slightly less carbonated, go with Prosecco - for instance, Mionetto or Scavi & Ray.
Initially, however, the Black Velvet Cocktail was created for the British royals, thus, featured real champagne. -As one would expect of a drink meant to honor a prince.
However, there's also a more practical reason: In the late 1800s, there simply was no other sparkling wine available. A situation that certainly is different today.
How to make the Black Velvet Cocktail
There are two ways how to make the Black Velvet Beer Cocktail. Regardless, which one you prefer, make sure your ingredients are well-chilled and straight out of the fridge:
- Mixing both ingredients
- Layering the beer on top of the champagne
For the first one, fill a champagne flute halfway with Stout and then top it up with sparkling wine. Both components will mix and create a silky, dark-colored, velvety, and sparkling cocktail. That's the traditional way to do it because the Stout was intended to dress the bubbly black for a funeral.
Alternatively, you can aim for a layered version of the Black Velvet Drink:
Start by filling your glass halfway with champagne, then gently pour the Stout on top. The slight difference in density of both liquids causes the beer to stay afloat.
However, despite the layered version may be looking a little more impressive, I prefer the original version. -Simply because I find it tastes better.
How does the drink taste?
Mixing Stout with champagne creates a lightly sparkling yet smooth and creamy texture that makes for a luxurious, crisp mouthfeel.
The taste is rich and slightly fruity, and the Guinness brings a subtle chocolate-caramelly sweetness.
Also, the carbonation is just enough to cut through the full-bodied, malty Stout, giving the Black Velvet drink a refreshing and lively touch.
The classic approach of a Black Velvet drink is to mix one part beer with one part bubbly, but of course, you can always adjust ratios. One of the more common variations is to turn this drink into a more champagne-forward version and make the mix 2:1. Yet, I find the 1:1 version very pleasant and the best way to prepare this cocktail.
You can also try combinations with other stout beers like the Guinness Extra Stout or Murphy's, another brand from Ireland, or Obsidian Stout, a product of the to tr like Deschutes Brewery in Oregon.
Origin of the Black Velvet Drink
As I said, mixing Stout and champagne is not exactly what I would call the obvious choice. So who thought of combining those two and why?
Well, the answer is as simple as it is genius - even though the occasion was not a happy one:
Cocktail for a royal funeral
Allegedly, the first time Black Velvet Drinks got served was at Brook's Club in London to honor Prince Albert after his passing in 1861.
The steward there thought that the funeral of Queen Victoria's husband should be treated with the utmost respect and, therefore, also the champagne should be mournful. So he mixed the sparkling wine with Guinness to give it a more grievous appearance.
Serving the drink in champagne flutes and naming it Black Velvet Cocktail ensured it would still radiate the decadence appropriate for the occasion.
The Black Velvet Cocktail for St. Paddy's
2021 marked the 160th anniversary of Prince Albert's death and funeral, and today, the Stout-champagne mix is more popular than ever before.
Because the Stout of choice usually is Guinness, the Black Velvet drink more and more got associated with Ireland instead of London. In recent years, it became a popular drink for St. Patrick's, along with favorites like the Green Tea Shot and others.
More Beer cocktails
If you like your beer and are looking for new ways to enjoy it, there are a few more cocktails worth trying: