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Majestic Guides: the best Champagne cocktails

Category: Majestic Guides

Wine Cocktails: the best Champagne cocktails

In Short:

Champagne cocktails are great for special occasions, but when mixing be careful not to overwhelm the elegant profile of the sparkling wine.

When to use Champagne in Cocktails

Whether you’re looking for a frizzante cocktail for that holiday party or an elegant serve to round off a meal, Champagne adds freshness and fizz to mixed drinks. Champagne’s delicate bubbles, golden hue and bright acidity can elevate your cocktail to special-occasion territory.

Champagne rarely comes cheap so, as a rule of thumb, use it in simple cocktails where the fizz plays starring role. If your cocktail is 50% wine or more – say, a classic Bucks Fizz, combining two-parts bubbly with one-part orange juice – then it’s worth using, as you’ll taste it in the finished drink. But if your cocktail recipe only calls for a splash of fizz, it can be better value to use another, less expensive sparkling wine. Prosecco, Cava or (for a lower-alcohol version) soda water can be good alternatives.

Also consider the flavours of your planned cocktail. Too many strong flavours – whether through the addition of liqueurs, syrups, bitters or spirits – may overwhelm the delicate fresh fruit notes of Champagne. Consider what other ingredients you’ll be using in your cocktail, and whether they may dull or enhance the profile of your fizz.

The Best Champagne Cocktails

The most famous Champagne cocktail is, of course, the Champagne Cocktail, a combination of fizz, Cognac, Angostura bitters and a sugar cube. This cocktail works because it has only a splash of Cognac and a dash of bitters, so the wine still takes centre stage.

Prefer a fresher profile? Try a French 75, another classic Champagne cocktail, where fizz is paired with gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. The citrusy profile of the gin and lemon compliments the Champagne, resulting in a light, harmonious serve.

Champagne cocktails make excellent apéritifs when paired with a touch of fruit liqueur. One example is the rose-hued Kir Royale – Champagne with a splash of blackcurrant-flavoured crème de cassis. It’s popular in France – though you can easily invent your own. While it uses juice rather than liqueur, the aforementioned Bucks Fizz is another example of how Champagne works well with fresh fruit flavours.

The Best Champagne for Cocktails

Use a quality bottle of fizz; after all, you’ll be able to taste the wine in your drink. But even if you’re making Champagne cocktails for a special occasion, this isn’t necessarily the time to break out your most precious bottle. Long-aged Champagnes with especially delicate bubbles and subtle flavours are best enjoyed on their own.

Different styles of Champagne suit different cocktails. When making a light Champagne cocktail – for example, a French 75 – then an equally light blanc de blancs Champagne can be a great choice. Blanc de blancs often have flavours of citrus fruit, which complement the cocktail’s gin and lemon juice. Give Drappier ‘Signature’ Blanc de Blancs Brut a try.

Alternatively, for slightly richer cocktails, such as a classic Champagne Cocktail, try a vintage Champagne aged for added complexity. Nicolas Courtin Brut NV is a great pick because its toasty brioche notes will stand up to the Cognac and bitters.

Finally, if you are making a generously fruity cocktail such as a Kir Royale, choose a Champagne heavy in Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier red grapes. Devaux Blanc de Noirs is made entirely with the former and has red fruit aromas to match the blackcurrant in the crème de cassis.