You don’t have to put away the champagne after New Year’s Eve. After last week’s Rosemary-Pear French 75, Nole and I decided it would be fun to devote the month of January to Champagne cocktails. So we’re going back to basics with our own twist on a classic: the very first Champagne cocktail was The Champagne Cocktail, one of the oldest and one of the best. – Andrew
Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper
Lavender Champagne Cocktail
Champagne or Another Dry Sparkling Wine
1/2 oz St-Germain
2 dashes Lavender Bitters
Add the St-Germain and bitters to a flute, then fill the rest of the glass with chilled Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!
I must confess: I’m not the biggest fan of Champagne, at least not by itself. Much of the Champagne made these days is very dry and acidic and not at all fun for me to drink. But that’s the beauty of the Champagne Cocktail: it takes a base spirit that can be rough to drink by itself, tempers is a bit with some sweetness, then rounds it out with the complexity of bitters. And the result – here a lightly sweet, deeply floral cocktail – is still wonderfully effervescent. So much fun to drink. (And if you’re not making this drink to impress the ladies in your life, you’re not doing it right.)
Champagne is an excellent showcase for other flavors, especially floral and fruity liqueurs. We used the elderflower-flavored St-Germain, but you might also enjoy Cointreau, Creme de Violette, or blood orange liqueur.
The original Champagne Cocktail goes all the way back to 1850 and looked a little different: a sugar cube dissolved by some aromatic bitters, like Angostura, then topped with Champagne and crushed ice, poured back and forth between two glasses to chill. Mixing with ice meant that the drink would go flat quickly, so you were meant to drink this version very fast, and then order another in quick succession. Not a bad plan.
But it’s a little plain, and Champagne demands partners as ostentatious as itself. Pairing with liqueurs like this also lets you set up a fun DIY cocktail station if you’re serving this drink at a party: set out some bottles of different liqueur, bitters, and some Champagne on ice, with a bowl of lemon peel garnishes, and let guests fix themselves their own Champagne Cocktails.
PS–You can find a set of these vintage silver-rimmed flutes over at our Etsy Shop!
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper
// Ed Note: I topped our champagne cocktail with a tiny bit of edible gold leaf for a bit of extra sparkle. But you can stick with the traditional lemon peel garnish or even a couple sprigs of lavender if you’re making this at home. –Nole //