3 simple and sweet champagne cocktails to serve at your holiday party

Winter Cocktails

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Cottage Life magazine. 

Champagne tastes on a beer budget? No problem. A really good Prosecco or cava, after all, is at least as good as an indifferent French bubbly and, when it comes to champagne cocktails, a dry cava with robust bubbles is actually better at holding its own when it’s mixed with spirits. Segura Viudas, a widely available dry Spanish cava, is a common choice among cocktail bartenders. At less than $18, it costs about a quarter the price of French champagne.  

While we’re at it, let’s take another page out of the barman’s book: Fizz needn’t always be served in crystal flutes anymore. The new generation of champagne cocktails is often served in rocks and Collins glasses, adding a touch of rusticity to a luxurious holiday ritual.

French 75

Although served straight-up and in a flute for decades, an early (1930) version of the French 75 served with cracked ice in a tall glass is regaining popularity.

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup (see Tip, below)
  • 2 oz cava

Shake all ingredients except cava in a shaker. Add cava to shaker. Strain mixture into an ice-filled Collins glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tip: I make a batch of simple syrup with two parts sugar to one part water. Heat until the sugar dissolves, let it cool, and refrigerate.

Negroni Sbagliato

Translated as the “Mistaken” Negroni, this new bubbly classic is a happy accident, said to have been invented in Milan in the 1980s when a bartender reached for gin and grabbed bubbly instead.

  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 2 oz cava

Pour into a rocks glass over ice and stir. Garnish with a thin orange slice.

Black Velvet

This sturdy and simple beer-and-champagne hybrid dates to 1861, when London mourners raised a glass on the occasion of Prince Albert’s death.

Carefully fill a flute or a Collins glass halfway with stout. Slowly add cava to the rim.