The Champagne Cocktail Is a Timeless Drink Meant to Impress

The Classic Champagne Cocktail
Omer Knaz / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images
  • 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail (1 serving)
Ratings (19)

You can find many recipes for Champagne cocktails, but there is only one Champagne cocktail. It is a classic drink that everyone should know and an easy way to add pizazz to the average glass of sparkling wine.

The Champagne cocktail is a fun and easy drink to mix up. The traditional way to do it is to saturate a sugar cube with Angostura Bitters, then top it with your favorite brandy and sparkling wine. When the Champagne is poured, the sugar dissolves and creates a beautiful fountain of bubbles in the flute. It's quite the spectacle and your guests will love it.

Choose a good Champagne for this drink because it contributes the majority of the flavor. The better tasting the Champagne, the better the cocktail will be.

What You'll Need

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 ounce brandy
  • 4-6 ounces Champagne
  • Garnish: orange slice
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry

How to Make It

  1. Place the sugar cube in the bottom of a Champagne flute.
  2. Saturate the cube with bitters.
  3. Add the brandy.
  4. Fill with Champagne and watch the sugar cube dissolve.
  5. Garnish with the orange slice and maraschino cherry.

The Key to a Great Champagne Cocktail

For this and all Champagne cocktails, it is best to add the Champagne at the very last minute.

  • Open the bottle right before serving for the freshest bubbles and the best visual as the sugar cube dissolves.
  • For faster service at a party, prepare all of the glasses you need with everything except the Champagne. Once the bottle is open, simply start pouring down the line of glasses.

How Strong Is the Champagne Cocktail?

Wines vary in their alcohol content and to estimate the strength of this cocktail, let's stick with the average of 12 percent ABV for the wine. Assuming you pour 5 ounces of Champagne, your drink would weigh in around 17 percent ABV (28 proof).

Even with an 80-proof brandy, it's still a relatively light drink in the cocktail world. The wine world is another matter and in that context, it's pretty hefty.

Variations on the Champagne Cocktail

As you might imagine, a drink as old and popular as the Champagne cocktail has inspired a number of new renditions. If you just can't stop mixing your Champagne, give one of these recipes a try.

The Champagne Fizz

Also called a diamond fizz, the Champagne fizz is like the refined big sister of the popular gin fizz. It is the use of champagne, rather than soda water, that distinguishes the two drinks and brings this one closer to the Champagne cocktail.

  • The egg of the gin fizz is often skipped in the Champagne fizz, though you can choose to add it. If you do so, shake it more than you normally would.
  • You will also notice that this drink follows the fizz characteristic of being served over ice. That is rare among Champagne cocktails.
  • Choose a nice London dry gin and a dry Champagne (labeled brut) for the best Champagne fizz.

To make the drink, mix 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce fresh lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

 Shake well and strain into a highball glass filled with ice before topping it with Champagne.

The Woodford Reserve Champagne Cocktail

This Champagne cocktail is from the picturesque cookbook, "The Woodford Reserve Culinary Cocktail Tour." In it, the brandy of the traditional Champagne cocktail is replaced with bourbon and instead of a sugar cube and bitters, it employs a sweet vanilla simple syrup.

To make the drink, pour 1 ounce Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey into a Champagne flute with 1/2 ounce vanilla simple syrup, then top with 4 ounces Korbel Champagne. Garnish with half a vanilla bean.

About that vanilla bean...While a vanilla bean garnish sounds like a great idea and does make a stunning presentation, it can be an expensive option. A single bean can cost over $10 and you may want to think about saving these precious beans for uses other than a garnish (like the simple syrup). The drink looks great without it.

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