I can’t think of anything more festive than a Champagne Cocktail, the perfect drink for your New Year’s Eve celebration in just a few days. Although it follows a very traditional recipe whose origins go back as far as 1862, there are many modern variations of this drink and a number of ways in which you can put your own unique twist on it. At it’s most basic, the Champagne Cocktail contains a sugar cube (either white or demerara), aromatic bitters, brandy, the Champagne itself, and some type of citrus or cherry garmish. Since it makes up such a large part of the drink, it’s important to use as good a quality Champagne as you can, or at the very least one whose taste you really enjoy. Champagne is fizzy in and of itself, but when it hits the sugar cube at the bottom of the glass, it sends up a tower of bubbles that makes a super fun presentation for your guests. You’ll want your ingredients to be as cold as possible, including the Champagne flutes themselves. You can either chill your brandy in the fridge, or place it in a pitcher over ice, stir it long enough to get it really cold, and then discard the ice. Alternatively, there are also variations of this recipe that include adding an ice cube directly to the drink to keep it well chilled, so that’s definitely another option.
As I was doing some research for this post I came across an idea on alcoholprofessor.com that I wanted to share with you. It involves setting up a kind of buffet of ingredients for party guests to make their own Champagne cocktails. For example, you could offer both white and brown sugar cubes, a selection of bitters, various spirits like brandy, Benedictine, Suze, St. Germain, Chartreuse (the possibilities are endless), a white and rosé Champagne, and various garnishes. You’ll want to instruct your guests to limit the amount of the spirits they use to anywhere from a teaspoon on up to an ounce, and the bitters to about 3 dashes, or enough to saturate the sugar cube. You might want to ask each guest to bring a spirit, along with a description of its flavor profile (easy to find online) to help people decide which combinations to put together. Encourage everyone to be creative and have fun!
1 sugar cube
3 dashes aromatic bitters
Champagne (use the best quality that you can)
1 oz brandy
Long orange peel for garnishing
Place the sugar cube in the bottom of a Champagne flute. Saturate the cube with the bitters. Add the brandy. Fill the rest of the way with chilled Champagne. The sugar cube will begin to dissolve, creating bubbles. Garnish with the orange strip. Enjoy!