The Cocktail Corner: Champagne cocktail

By Tom Joyce

The Wild West Bartenders’ Bible spoke of a bar in New Mexico that would top off all of it’s cocktails with a splash of champagne. Genius. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to walk into an Albuquerque bar in 1886 and taste French sparkling wine for the first time? I imagine it would rival your first night sleeping nude in flannel sheets.

It reminds me of a line from a movie I can’t think of the name of when a guy takes a sip of a drink and says, “Ahh, needs more vodka.” The bartender replies, “There’s no vodka in that drink sir.”  And he responds, “Well that’s the problem!”

“What, no Champagne in that drink? Let’s fix that.” Thus, the Champagne Cocktail was born. At least that’s one possible explanation, I can’t read every bar tending book in existence; you people will have to do some research for yourselves.

Late the other night I was pulling all the opened soda, Prosecco and champagne splits out of the ice to make shift drinks for the staff.

“Here, your shift drink tonight is a nice rum and ginger ale. What? You’d rather have rum and Coke? Well those are $7 and this is free, your choice. I thought so… the ginger ale will settle your stomach,” I said.

So chef Eddy and I are discussing the finer points of peaty scotches when I realized I forgot to add a couple drops of water to mine. You can be thankful to not know what it feels like to get your butt kicked on a 10-hour bar tending shift. When you finally sit down, you don’t want get up. You look down at your legs like they are a big black lab who’s taking up way too much of the bed and will not budge. I look at the line up of bottles for some club soda but I already used that to make our hostess a vodka and tonic.

So there I was, sitting there within arms reach, a half split of Prosecco, Italian sparkling wine. I added a splash to the scotch and it was like Pop Rocks and Coke, a taste explosion! So what’s my point? I’m not sure but I would suggest you do like Bryon A. Johnson did in 1886 in the high plains desert and add a little champagne to your favorite cocktail and celebrate.

Or make yourself a traditional Champagne Cocktail like so:

Pour 5 ounces of a dry Champagne into a chilled flute.

Champagnes that are Extra Brut are dryer than Brut which are drier than Extra Dry. (Makes sense doesn’t it? Leave it to the French.)

Drop in an Angostura bitter soaked sugar cube. If you use a raw Demerara cube it adds a little caramel flavor and will make it look like there’s a little camp fire burning in your drink. The cube glows a reddish hue and the bubbles look like smoke. Super fun!

Happy New Year’s! Remember the road probably doesn’t need one, so be careful and tipple don’t topple.

Cheers! Here’s to you!

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