The Champagne Cocktail goes back at least as far as 1862 when it appeared in ‘How to Mix Drinks’ or ‘The Bon-Vivant’s Companion’ by Jerry Thomas. Delicious variations include all sorts of spirits, liqueurs and fruit, but the classic is the perfect place to start.
For most champagne-based cocktails you will get a very agreeable drink using inexpensive champagne or good quality sparkling wine. However, for the Classic we always use decent champagne as it is very much the star of the show with the other ingredients enhancing its flavour. Always chill the champagne for about two hours (don’t store it in the fridge for indefinite periods though as it can lose its bouquet). If you need to get things moving you can chill it pretty quickly in a bucket filled with half ice, half water.
Always, always add all the additional ingredients to the glass first to avoid unsightly spillage, followed by pouring the champagne slowly down the inside of the glass. If you really want to bring a glow to the cheeks, add a little brandy – some say this is the Classic recipe others rather cleverly call it a Brandy Champagne Cocktail. And forget all that nonsense of preserving half-consumed bottles with silver spoons and stoppers – just finish it!
2 or 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Drop the sugar cube into a champagne flute and soak it with the bitters. Add the brandy if you are using it. Fill carefully with champagne. Run the peel of the lemon around the rim of the glass, squeeze it over the drink and drop it in.