The Black Velvet Drink combines two alcoholic beverages you probably would not pair intuitively: Irish Stout, usually Guinness, and Champagne.
When first hearing about it, I was highly doubtful that this could lead to anything even remotely enjoyable. Not least because I absolutely do appreciate a glass of bubbly, but 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.
In saying that, I have to admit that the idea of beer and Champagne seemed intriguing. And surprisingly, I found it quite agreeable.
So, even if you're not the Stout type - or not the Champagne type, perhaps- give the Black Velvet drink a shot next St. Patricks Day. It might just surprise you, as well.
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 somber and grieving. 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 that it would still radiate the decadence appropriate for the occasion.
The Black Velvet Cocktail for St. Paddy's
Last year marked the 160th anniversary of Prince Albert's death and funeral, and the Stout-Champagne mix is as popular as never 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 -Not the worst of careers.
How to make Black Velvet Drinks
There are two ways how to make the Black Velvet Beer Cocktail.
One is to fill a Champagne flute half the way with Stout and then top it up with Champagne. Both components will mix together beautifully and create a silky, dark-colored, velvety, and sparkling cocktail.
That's the traditional way to do it. -Because remember, the Stout was intended to dress the bubbly black.
Alternatively, you can aim for a layered version of the Black Velvet.
For that, you start with filling your glass halfway with Champagne first. In a second step, you float the Stout on top.
The slightly different density of both liquids causes the beer to stay on top for most parts.
But despite the layered version may look a little more impressive, I prefer the original version. -Simply because I find it tastes better.
How does the Black Velvet Beer Cocktail 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.
What Champagne to use in a Black Velvet Drink?
The original version of the Black Velvet Cocktail featured Champagne, as one would expect when creating a drink in honor of a Prince.
And there's also a more practical reason: In 1861, there was simply no other sparkling wine available.
A situation that certainly is different today. So basically, you can go with any type of bubbly, from Cava to Prosecco to Champagne, as long as it is not too sweet. I recommend either brut or extra dry on the label.
For most, mixing an expensive, luxurious ingredient like Champagne with something as strong and powerful as a Stout beer might seem outrageous. And I cannot argue with that because I feel the same.
Therefore, I recommend a dry Spanish Cava like Freixenet or Campo Viejo. -If you want your drink to be slightly less carbonated, you can go with Prosecco - for instance, Mionetto or Scavi & Ray.
Ratio for the Black Velvet
The classic approach of a Black Velvet drink is 1:1, but of course, you can always adjust ratios. Some prefer a more Champagne-forward version and make the mix 2:1. Yet, despite not being Stout-person, I find the 1:1 version very pleasant.
More Beer cocktails
If you like your beer and are looking for new ways to enjoy it, there are a few beer cocktails you could try.
Have you ever tried a Boilermaker? If not, give this combination of Beer and Whiskey a try and find your perfect Boilermaker pairing.
Another refreshing beer cocktail is jelly beer. It is a frozen beer drink often flavored with fresh lime juice and a bit of simple syrup. A perfect summer drink with a slush-like consistency.
- 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!