“Brothers come quickly, I’m drinking stars!” screamed the monk Dom Pérignon in delight after discovering how to make Champagne: la méthode champenoise… or so the legend goes.
Today the chalky green hills of the Champagne region of France are still the only setting that can produce true champagne, but for the following classic Champagne cocktails you can feel free to use any kind of sparkling wine.
THE classic Champagne cocktail, this version has been around since the mid-1800s and has remained popular because it is very easy to make and combines sweet, sour and bitter flavors for an interesting taste. Douse a sugar cube with several good shakes of Angostura bitters, then plop it in the bottom of a flute glass. Fill with Champagne and then garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry. Cheers!
Invented in 1915 at the landmark New York Bar in Paris, the French 75 gives a kick so strong it’s like being shelled by a French 75mm field gun – hence the name. The strongest cocktail on this list, the French 75 is best served in a Tom Collins glass. In a shaker with ice combine 2 ounces London dry gin, 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ ounce fresh lemon juice; shake very well. Strain into a tall glass half full of ice, and then fill to the top with Champagne. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Death in the Afternoon
Created by Ernest Hemingway and one of the author’s favorite drinks (he had many favorites), this classic Champagne cocktail is poised for a comeback alongside the renaissance/legalization of absinthe, which is the drink’s main ingredient after Champagne. Death in the Afternoon is easy to make; simply follow Hemingway’s original instructions: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
One of the most popular apéritifs (before-dinner drinks) in the France, the Kir combines ½ ounce (or less) of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) with white wine. The Kir Royale takes it up a notch and uses Champagne instead of white wine for a bubbly treat that is perfectly suited for sidewalk cafes or a pre-opera cocktail. Alternatively, you can use crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur) or crème de pêche (peach liqueur).
The Bellini is a sweet pink drink that was invented in Venice and remains one of the most popular cocktails in Italy. Named after Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini, the Bellini combines 2 parts Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) with 1 part pureed fresh white peaches. Just pour them into a fluted glass, stir, and then add a touch of raspberry or cherry juice to give it a pretty pink color.
Known around the world as a favorite hangover remedy, the Mimosa is now served in bottomless pitchers to hipsters as hair of the dog at brunch tables across America. Make your own by combining equal parts Champagne and fresh squeezed orange juice into a fluted glass. Relax as the vitamin C combines with the spirits for a sunshiney pick-me-up that soothes the body and brain.