How to craft your own champagne cocktails

Updated: January 8, 2019

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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
½ 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.

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.

NEGRONI SBAGLIATO
Translated as the “Mistaken” Negroni, this new bubbly classic is a happy accident, said to have been invented in Milan in the1980s 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.

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.

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