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Happy Hour: Champagne Cocktail

Photograph by Daniel Montoya

Swap out the whiskey for Champagne in the Old Fashioned template and you'll get this pedigreed cocktail, which was first mentioned in 1862 in Jerry Thomas's How to Mix Drinks. With its low alcohol content and bubbly constitution, this recipe makes a good candidate for day drinking or a nonbitter apéritif. The question as to whether you pony up for the good stuff or choose a down-market sparkling wine depends largely on your opinion of the sacredness of Champagne.

This recipe hails from a handy cocktail recipe book we've discovered called The Essential Bar Book, which quite literally has everything you need to know about making great cocktails...and what goes in them. As far as champagne goes, we like to live by the quote "Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you've got a bottle of champagne in the fridge." To make the occasion even more special, dress it up with this recipe.

Recipe: Champagne Cocktail

Yields 1 cocktail


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Champagne
  • Long, curly lemon peel for garnish
  • Glassware: flute


  1. Add sugar cube to the flute. Dash Angostura bitters over sugar to soak.
  2. Slowly top up with Champagne. Garnish with a long, curly peel of lemon.

Note: A dry sparkling wine like Crémant de Bourgogne is best if you don't have a true Champagne on hand. Also: The type of bitters used can dramatically alter the drink. While Angostura is classic, playing around is encouraged. Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters, adds an element of citrus, employing yuzu or Meyer lemon bitters in combination with a dot of Angostura to maintain "that pretty amber hue."

Photograph by Daniel Montoya

Reprinted with permission from The Essential Bar Book, by Jennifer Fiedler, copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC.

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