Champagne is an exquisite and costly ingredient. A luxurious sip that doesn't need any other ingredients to shine. Then again, champagne works amazingly well in mixed drinks. Combined with fruity, sweet, and sometimes fresh flavors, it can lift your cocktails and confer class.
In the Champagne Cocktail, however, it is the other way around. All the ingredients are composed to complement and enhance the experience of the exquisite sparkling wine.
Quick Facts Champagne Cocktail
- Method: built in glass
- Flavor profile: dry, slightly sour, and fruity
- How to serve it: straight up
- Glassware: champagne flute
- Alcohol content: ~ 18% ABV, 18 grams of alcohol per serving
Due to the simplicity end elegance of the drink, it's a perfect choice to serve on New Year's Eve or other festive events.
- 1 Jigger
- 3.5 oz Brut Champagne
- 1 oz Cognac
- 3 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 Sugar cube
- Lemon peel - (garnish)
- Coat and soak the sugar cube with Angostura bitters and drop it into a chilled Champagne flute.3 dash Angostura bitters, 1 Sugar cube
- Pour chilled Cognac over the soaked cube.1 oz Cognac
- Then top with Brut Champagne and garnish with lemon peel.Lemon peel, 3.5 oz Brut Champagne
Does it Have to be Champagne?
No, you don't need to spend a fortune on a bottle of actual champagne for this cocktail. There are plenty of high-quality alternatives these days that are more affordable.
You can go for an Italian Prosecco spumante (the one with more carbonation), a Spanish Cava, or a German Sekt. What you should keep in mind, though, is to pick a bubbly low in sugar.
Due to historical reasons, the terms here are a little misleading: dry on the bottle indicates a relatively high sugar content. Extra dry is better, and brut is best for this drink. -Extra brut usually is too sour for people not used to it.
Which Cognac for the Champagne Cocktail?
The cognac you use for the Champagne Cocktail should definitely be of good quality. Champagne is a costly and delicate ingredient, and you don't want to spoil that.
On the other hand, premium Cognac would be wasted in a mixed drink. Thus, I like to go with a decent and versatile mid-shelf option, like the Hennessy V.S. or V.S.O.P., or one from Remy Martin.
Even if you opt for another, less pricey sparkling wine than champagne, the cognac still should be able to enhance the taste.
Unlike many other cocktails that need to be shaken or stirred, you can simply assemble the Champagne Cocktail in a champagne flute. The first step is to coat your sugar cube with Angostura bitters.
Then drop the soaked sugar cube into a chilled champagne flute. Pour over the cognac and only then fill up the glass with bubbly champagne.
Finally, an elegant garnish of lemon peel will make the drink perfect. -Ready to be served at your next New Year's Eve event!
History of the Champagne Cocktail Recipe
Like many other classic drinks, the recipe for the Champagne Cocktail first was mentioned in Jerry Thomas's book The Bartender's Guide, published in 1862. -A bible for every (home) bartender that includes an endless list of classics.
A few of the recipes in the book are outdated due to the unavailability of certain ingredients. But that is not the case for the Champagne Cocktail.
In his first recipe, Thomas asked for champagne, sugar, cocktail bitters, and lemon zest - all still readily available today. Interestingly the recipe didn't include brandy, and the drink was served on crushed ice and in a tumbler back then.
It also seems as if Thomas wasn't the one to come up with the recipe: Robert Tomes mentioned an equivalent drink seven years before in his book "Panama in 1855". However, he forgot to provide the recipe. Instead, Tomes only described some ingredients. He wrote:
"A bottle of prime sparkling "Mum" was brought, a refreshing plateful of crystal ice, fresh from Rockland by the last steamer, and rather a medicinal looking bottle, upon which was written in direct, brief terms "Bitters"."Robert Tomes, Panama in 1855
That looks pretty similar to the instructions Jerry Thomas provided in his first book.
Both - the recipe and the preferred way to serve it - did evolve a lot over time. First, the amount of ice was reduced, then the tumbler got replaced by a goblet glass.
Today's recipe is even more refined. The ice is gone completely, and to enhance the depth of flavors in the cocktail, a splash of cognac has joined the mix.
Other Cocktails with Champagne
This drink is only one of many cocktails made with champagne. For a long time, these classy drinks were almost forgotten and only served on special occasions because they were expensive.
However, in the past decades, affordable quality sparkling wines like Prosecco, Cava, etc., entered the international market, making these cocktails more approachable again: