‘I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.’
So said Lily Bollinger, perhaps predictably as she was head of the eponymous champagne house at the time. All the same, there’s definitely something about champagne that sets it apart from less prestigious drinks. Elegant, indulgent and romantic, it’s capable of imbuing gravitas and frivolity in equal measure, making it the perfect choice for special occasions of every stripe.
Most people opt to drink it unadulterated but if you like your tipple with a twist, here are our favourite champagne cocktails.
Classic Champagne Cocktail
You can’t really go wrong with this one so long as you assemble everything in the right order. We’d recommend placing a sugar cube on a folded napkin before dousing it with a couple of dashes of Angostura Bitters. Use the napkin to funnel the bitters-soaked cube to the bottom of a champagne flute, then add about 10ml of cognac, ice-cold, to stop the champagne from foaming up. Top with champagne or crémant and serve with a thin strip of lemon or orange peel.
The simplest of champagne cocktails, this classic calls for a short measure of crème de cassis (about 15-20ml), topped up with champagne and garnished with a blackberry. You can, of course, substitute the liqueur with another – Chambord black raspberry liqueur makes a great alternative, while St Germain elderflower liqueur offers a lighter, more summery option that’s perfect for a posh picnic. Spritz it up by adding a little soda water alongside the champagne.
The French 75 is an enduring classic, made famous by its starring role in Casablanca. A simple concoction of gin, fresh lemon juice, powdered sugar and champagne, it packs a serious punch and is best consumed in modest quantities. An easier, less alcoholic – and no less tasty – alternative is to add a measure of sloe or damson gin to a flute before topping with champagne. Why not experiment with 50ml of Edmunds ready-made Chambord Bramble cocktail as an elegant base for your bubbles?
Invented in the mid twentieth century by Guiseppe Cipriani of the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice, the Bellini has become a brunch classic. A simple blend of peach nectar and fizz (one of the few occasions when prosecco will do just as well as champagne) in a roughly 1:2 ratio makes a quaffable daytime drink. Turn it into a Buck’s Fizz by swapping the peach for fresh orange juice.