Champagne Cocktails to Ring in the New Year

A few classics to help you dress up that champagne for your holiday soirée—or to make the lower-quality leftover champers palatable on January 2nd.

Typically in Buy You a Drink, GOOD’s resident mixologist offers tasty intoxicants to select newsmakers. Today, he offers champagne cocktail recipes for your leftover bubbly.

What will you remember most about 2011? I’ll remember endless hours of Words with Friends, fascinating new booze from an expanding crop of craft distilleries, and Total Rihanna Domination. Perhaps more than anything, I’ll remember 2011 as the year of Brian Bradley, the Astronomical Kid. X Factor’s rap prodigy was the most outrageous and captivating person to cross my television screen this year (surpassing even the sublimely ridiculous Herman Cain).

In honor of one of my favorite Astro momentsNo tantrums this week! I’m 15—15 is the new 25! – I’m skipping the rant this time and getting straight to the recipes. You’ve got a New Year to celebrate, and it’s going to be bubbly. Here are a few classics to help you dress up that champagne for your holiday soirée—or to make the lower-quality leftover champers palatable on Jan. 2nd and beyond.

The Call: A Three-Course Champagne Feast

Let’s start with something light and refreshing enough to drink with breakfast. At some proud moment in the annals of human inspiration, a pioneer discovered that the Tom Collins could be improved by substituting champagne for the club soda, and named it after a French artillery cannon. A French 75 will please the palate of your gin-drinking guests, and bridge the gap between their Martinis and the midnight toast. Do tell them the origin of the name, so they know you just handed them something genuinely potent.

French 75, as mixed by David Wondrich

2 ounces London dry gin
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1/2 ounce lemon juice
5 ounces Brut champagne

Shake well with cracked ice in a chilled cocktail shaker, then strain into a Collins glass half-full of cracked ice and top off with champagne.


For those expecting something even more traditional, mix a Champagne Cocktail like they make them at PDT in New York City—the same way Jerry Thomas made them in his 1862 Bar-Tender’s Guide.

Champagne Cocktail

6 ½ oz. Champagne
1 sugar cube, soaked in Angostura bitters

Pour the champagne. Carefully add the bitter-soaked sugar cube. Garnish with a spiral lemon twist.


Once upon a time, ordering a “____ cocktail” would get you the spirit of your choosing plus bitters and sugar. The champagne cocktail hearkens back to that era, making it the ideal choice for guests who are most allergic to nonsense, tomfoolery, and general foofaraw.

For those who prefer their drinks closer to artillery strength, the most common addition to the champagne cocktail is brandy. Personally, I prefer this charming variant from Charles H. Baker’s classic Gentleman’s Companion.

Ile de France Special

1 oz. Cognac
½ tsp. sugar
¼ oz. yellow Chartreuse
Champagne (Baker demands “very cold, dry Champagne”)

Put sugar and Cognac into chilled champagne flute. Fill with Champagne. Top with Chartreuse, poured over the back of a barspoon. Reminisce about that time at the little café on Ile de France, with the Parisian sun shining and your hair in a satin ribbon, and the way that handsome Breton waiter kept glancing over at you – wait, that was on Ile de St. Louis. Never mind.


An Ile de France Special is unusual enough to impress your cocktail geek guests, simple enough to let the properties of the bubbly shine through, but strong enough to help you get over the depressing spectacle of Zombie Dick Clark, reanimated by Ryan Seacrest to bumble through the ungodly countdown one more time. It may seem overindulgent to purchase a bottle of yellow Chartreuse just for those few nose-tingling drops atop each drink, but think of it as in investment in a 2012 full of exotic cocktails like the Alaska, the Puritan, and the Woxum.

Come to think of it, the first two of those sound like cocktails for Republican Presidential candidates. All three, if we make “Woxum” our fun new synonym for “batshit.” This may be a good year for Chartreuse here at Buy You a Drink.

May it also be a good year for you. I wish you all a 2012 filled with happy memories, personal success, and safe, responsible imbibing. Rihanna and I will both drink to that.

Photo (cc) via Flickr user jo-h.

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