The venerable Champagne Cocktail was named one of the 10 best drinks by Esquire Magazine in 1934. One famous variation on the drink originated at London Savoy Hotel in the 1920s. The Savoy Champagne Cocktail was made with an Angostura bitters saturated sugar cube, equal parts of Grand Marnier and V.S. cognac, filled with chilled Champagne and garnished with an orange twist.
In addition to the category’s namesake and founder, there are other classic and absolutely essential Champagne cocktails that must be sipped and savored to be fully appreciated, including:
• Bellini — Created at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, the Bellini is a classic cocktail made with cold white peach puree and chilled Prosecco, although the drink is now more frequently made with Champagne. The proportions range from equal parts of puree to Champagne (or Prosecco) to three parts puree to one part wine.
• Black Velvet — One of the classic Champagne cocktails, the Black Velvet is said to have originated at the Brook’s Club in London in 1861. It’s an innovative blend with equal parts of Guinness Irish Stout and Champagne.
• Death in the Afternoon — Ernest Hemingway is credited with creating this drink at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s. It’s prepared by mixing a jigger of Pernod and a generous fill of chilled Champagne.
• French 75 — Said to have originated in Paris during World War I, the classic cocktail is made with gin, fresh lemon sour mix and Champagne. Substitute bourbon for the gin to make the French 95. There is also a cognac-based version of the cocktail, the French 125.
• Kir Royale — The libation is a combination of Champagne, crème de cassis and a lemon twist. The balance of the three flavors is sublime. Considering its prominent role, selecting a premium brand of cassis for use in this particular cocktail is highly advisable. A contemporary version is the Champagne Framboise, which pairs Champagne with raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord. Combine equal parts of raspberry liqueur and cognac and a fill of chilled Champagne to create the classic Rue de la Paix.
• Mimosa — Originated sometime in France in the 1920s, the Mimosa is made by combining equal parts of fresh orange juice and Champagne. The drink has launched numerous variations, including the Puccini (tangerine juice), Pizzetti (orange and grapefruit juice) and Ruddy Mimosa (orange and cranberry juice).
• Nelson’s Blood — Despite its slightly daunting name, the Nelson’s Blood is a sensationally delicious and refreshing cocktail. It’s prepared with a jigger of tawny Port and Champagne. As for the name? England’s greatest naval hero, Admiral Horatio Viscount Nelson, was mortally wounded in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar. His brilliant tactics led to the defeat of the combined French and Spanish fleets. Nelson’s body was returned to England in a cask of rum, the alcohol to serve as a preservative until he could be buried with full honors at St. Paul’s Cathedral. As the story goes, during the voyage the sailors onboard secretly emptied the cask of rum so as to drink “Nelson’s Blood,” which became the name of another classic drink.
• Ritz Fizz — Created at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston, the now famous Ritz Fizz is concocted using Disaronno Amaretto, Blue Curaçao, fresh lemon sour mix and Champagne.
For more on Champagne cocktails, check out "Champagne Cocktails: Imbibe the Effervescence" at Nightclub.com.