Ringing in the New Year: Champagne Cocktails

Well, folks, it’s almost 2014. What are you doing for New Year’s? Do you have someone to kiss at midnight? If so, then maybe this post will give you something nice to share with your sweetheart. If not, then maybe this post will help you forget how lonely you are.

This post is dedicated to New Year’s, and as such I’m exploring various champagne cocktails. Well, fine, sparkling wine cocktails for all you purists. In any case, since New Year’s is often a time when people break out the bubbly, I thought this would be a good opportunity to break out the bubbly for myself. Wine cocktails aren’t as popular as ones based around liquor, and you should by no means be using expensive wine for these cocktails. That being said, wine cocktails are still pretty great if done right.

So, since the world didn’t end last week, let’s celebrate that it’s going to continue into a new year next week. Here are eight cocktails based around sparkling wine.

Classic Champagne Cocktail

  • 2 to 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • White Sparkling Wine
  • Lemon Twist

champagne-cocktails-classicHere’s a very simple and straightforward sparkling wine cocktail. Bitters, sugar, and wine. That’s all you need. Well, the lemon peel is important too. The garnishes in these drinks are actually extremely noticeable and add quite a lot. So, if possible, don’t skip the garnishes this time around.

In any case, this drink is yummy, a little spicy from the bitters, and watching the bubbles rise from the sugar cube is really cool. The bubbles, by the way, help the sugar dissolve, much in the same way alcohol helps you to forget that you’ve wasted another year. Though, without some stirring, it’s unlikely that all of the sugar will dissolve. But that’s not a huge deal.

Anyway, to make this, put the sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, soak the cube in bitters, and top with champagne. Twist the lemon peel over the drink, rim the glass with it, and drop it in.

Enjoy, and move on to some more bubbly.

French 75

  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • White Sparkling Wine
  • Orange Twist

champagne-cocktails-french-75This is another popular and classic champagne cocktail. It’s pretty good, too. It’s full of citrus and bubbles and goodness, though it might be a little tarter than you’re expecting. But it’s good, and it’s a classic for a reason.

Also, it’s really pretty with the orange peel. And classy. If you’re throwing a classy New Year’s party, then this might make your guests feel sophisticated and cultured — “French” is in the name of this cocktail, after all. This is a good idea, because there’s really nothing better than feeling classy while you get shitfaced. This is probably a rule the French learned from the Russians.

So, shake the gin, lemon juice, and sugar with ice and strain it into a champagne flute. Top it off with champagne, and garnish with the orange twist as you would with a lemon twist.

Blue Champagne

  • 1 oz Vodka or Gin
  • 1/4 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 Splash Triple Sec
  • White Sparkling Wine

champagne-cocktails-blue-champagneIf you’re having a less than classy party, it’s time to bring out the blue booze, isn’t it? For whatever reason, people love bright blue drinks, just like they love bright blue pills. Break this out at a party and people will likely go nuts. Hell, you could probably just add blue food coloring to champagne, and you’d automatically be the life of the party. People are easy to please, no?

However, this is probably a better drink to have for a party, since the shot of hard liquor will make people happier. This drink tastes really good, but don’t let the blue fool you — it’s not particularly sweet, at least not for a drink that uses blue curacao (depending on what sparkling wine you use, of course). This will surprise some guests if they’re looking for something sweet. And, let’s face it, if they want something blue, they probably want something sweet. I don’t know why that’s the rule, but such is the way of things.

Making this drink is as easy as anything, though, so you might as well make it for happy-go-lucky party guests. Pour the first four ingredients into a champagne flute and then top with the wine. Drink and enjoy.


  • Lemon Wedge
  • Sugar
  • 1 ½ oz Brandy
  • 1/4 tsp Cointreau (or Triple Sec)
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • White Sparkling Wine

champagne-cocktails-chicagoOh, this drink. This is the drink that my fiancee tried and said, “Tastes like old man.” That about sums it up. That about sums about any brandy drink, come to think of it. I guess if you like to lick old men, then this drink might be for you. If not, then I’m glad you’re still a valuable member of society, and I’m going to recommend against this drink.

This drink is pretty heavy on the brandy. I don’t like brandy, and this drink did not change my opinion of it. With the sugared rim it’s pretty easy to swallow, but it’s still brandy, and brandy is still gross — still a step above Scotch, but still gross. If you like brandy, you’ll probably like this. If you don’t like brandy, you’re not going to like this.

Though as much as I deride this drink, it is quite complex and is worth something in it’s own right. I just hate brandy, so its merits were lost on me. Perhaps they will not be lost on you.

To make this drink, start by rimming a white wine glass with the lemon wedge and sugar. Then shake the brandy, Cointreau or triple sec, and bitters with ice. Strain it into the prepared glass and top with the wine. Try to gulp it down and enjoy.

Very thankfully moving on.

French Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1/2 oz Crème de Cassis
  • White Sparkling Wine

champagne-cocktails-frenchThere’s nothing particularly French about this as far as I can tell, so perhaps the name is a misnomer. Even so, this cocktail isn’t half bad. It’s sweet, it’s a little fruity, and it’s damn nice. If you’re spending New Year’s with that special someone and no one else, this could be a great romantic drink to enjoy with your honey before, at, and after midnight.

I also appreciate this cocktail because crème de cassis is a great and delicious ingredient, but it isn’t used enough. And when it is used, it is used in very small amounts (though probably for good reasons, since it’s so cloying). This drink uses a full half ounce of the stuff, which is as most of it as I’ve ever seen of it in a drink. The crème de cassis is a great addition here, and this drink is all the better for it.

Put the sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, soak it with the bitters, add the crème de cassis, and slowly top with the sparkling wine.
This drink is great, but let’s try a slightly classier version of it.

Kir Imperiale

  • 1 (small) splash Chambord
  • White Sparkling Wine
  • Lemon Twist

champagne-cocktails-kir-imperialeIf you want to make the more popular Kir Royale, replace the Chambord with crème de cassis, and use a little less of it. However, I wanted it to taste like raspberries, so I made this version, instead. I also increased the amount of Chambord. The recipe I have says to use a teaspoon, but I wanted the raspberry flavor to come out more. But, if you do increase it from a teaspoon, don’t overdo it. You don’t want it to be too sweet.

And if you’re making a Kir Royale, the suggested amount of crème de cassis is a half teaspoon, so if you’re using crème de cassis, be even more conservative about increasing the amount of liqueur.

Anyway, this drink is nice and full of delicious raspberry flavor. Anyone who loves Chambord will love this. Since it’s such a small amount of Chambord, it doesn’t affect the flavor in a huge way, but it smooths it out and mutes astringency of the champagne. Even in small amounts, it’s an important ingredient and makes for an interesting drink.

Rim the glass with the twist, drop it in, add the Chambord, and top with sparkling wine.

Moving on!

Champagne Fizz

  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • Sparkling White Wine

champagne-cocktails-fizzI guess fizzes are more of summer-type drinks, but whatever. Booze is booze, and sparkling wine is sparkling wine. Drink what you want, no matter the season, mate.

So this is a good little drink, with the old sweet-and-sour blueprint helping it out. The gin is not that noticeable in taste, but it definitely adds to the aroma and to the aftertaste. It lends some very nice notes to the drink, but not overpowering notes at all. This drink remains, at the end of the day, a champagne drink, and that’s exactly what it tastes like. If you enjoy gin or fizzes, then try this one out. It’s simple to make and complex to taste. And pretty damn good.

Pour the first three ingredients into a champagne flute and top with sparkling wine. Simple enough, right?

Last drink!

Irish Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 oz Irish Whiskey
  • White Sparkling Wine
  • Lemon Twist

champagne-cocktails-irishAnd here’s the whiskey. Oh whiskey. I have recently become friends with bourbon (to the surprise of everyone, including myself), but I haven’t become such friends with Irish whiskey yet. However, Irish whiskey is really smooth and easy to drink, and it’s not Scotch, so it’s not completely awful. So, even though I haven’t developed a taste for Irish whiskey yet, it’s not the worst thing ever, and in a cocktail like this, it works alright.

This drink is really just the first drink I made but with a shot of Jameson’s or Bushmill’s or whatever Irish whiskey you prefer. So it’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and it has a good whiskey kick to it. It’s also a lot more alcoholic, so that’s really fun, especially at midnight.

You could probably try this with other whiskeys, but other whiskeys aren’t necessarily as smooth as Irish whiskey. Bourbon, Scotch, and rye would definitely be a lot more noticeable in such a cocktail. Canadian whisky might be appropriate, though.

In any case, put the sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, soak it in bitters, add the whiskey, and fill the glass with the wine. Garnish with the twist because you’re a fancy motherfucker, and get drunk off of your spiked wine.


Happy New Year’s, folks. Don’t drink to much, and either stay where you are or designate a driver. See you next year! (Bet you haven’t heard that joke before.)