The Champagne Cocktail is an ancient recipe that’s so far out, it’s back in again. We like the proportions of this recipe from Simon Difford’s Cocktails: The Bartender’s Bible, which was featured in The Washington Post a few years ago. It’s really more of a template than a hard-and-fast recipe; it’s a great canvas for experimentation with spirits and bitters. It doesn’t even strictly require Champagne; any dry sparkling wine will do.
Nobody knows the origins of this drink, but it goes back at least as far as the mid-19th century, when sparkling drinks became the must-have trendy drinks among elites in America and Britain. Older recipes call for the addition of an ice cube or two, which we prefer to modern ice-less recipes; if you don’t keep your brandy or other spirit chilled, it’ll warm up the drink unpleasantly without the ice cube.
You’ll notice that the sugar cube doesn’t completely dissolve. Resist the urge to break it down with a barspoon – it’s meant to stay mostly whole, serving as a medium to soak up the bitters before they’re carried into the drink by the sparkling bubbles.
- 1 whole Sugar cube
- 3 drops Aromatic bitters or Aromatic bitters or Lavender bitters or Lemon bitters or Orange bitters or Peychaud's bitters or Peach bitters or Grapefruit bitters or Chocolate bitters or Cherry bitters
- ½ part Brandy or Cognac or Apple brandy or Gin
- 3 parts Sparkling white wine or Sparkling rosé wine
Place the sugar cube at the bottom of a chilled champagne flute. Soak it with the drops of bitters, and top with the brandy (or other spirit). Add some ice if desired, and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon twist.
- Champagne Cocktail from The Washington Post
- Cocktails: The Bartender’s Bible by Simon Difford
- Vintage Books Tell the Story of Champagne Cocktails from The Alcohol Professor, with even more ideas for spirit and bitters substitutions.