The 5 champagne cocktails every gentleman should know how to mix

From a gin-soaked spin on champagne to Ernest Hemingway’s absinthe-infused invention, these are the finest fizz-based drinks ever mixed…

Everyone knows that champagne is a fancy, fizzy drink. Everyone also knows that cocktails can be prim, prissy affairs. So combine the two, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the result would be the worst of both worlds; finicky, pretentious and more sparkling style over genuine substance.

Not so. While fruity, flimsy champagne cocktails do exist, we’ve left the likes of Mimosas and Bellinis behind the bar. Instead, we’ve rounded up a handful of manly-but-dainty drinks; recipes whipped up during Nazi occupation, named after wartime artillery guns or blended into being by ravaged, revered authors.

These are cocktails that pour a packed punch into every fluteful, and elevate sophisticated champagne to an even higher, more hedonistic place. So grab your favourite vintage, discover the effervescent stories behind these brilliantly bubbly drinks — and mix the five champagne cocktails every gentleman should know how to make…

The Champagne Cocktail is a classic

A simple start; the traditional champagne cocktail is one of the oldest mixed drinks still being served today. Dating back to around the mid-1800s, it’s not one to waste a good vintage on — but is an excellent option if you’ve got a sub-par champagne that needs a bit of pep. The addition of sugar and bitters boost the flavour, and give it some extra fizz.


  • Champagne
  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • Lemon Twist


  1. Douse the sugar cube in Angostura bitters
  2. Place at the bottom of your flute
  3. Top up with champagne
  4. Garnish with the lemon twist

The Black Velvet is the ultimate acquired taste

A slightly less-simple second; for your tastebuds at least. The idea may be simple — mix Guinness and champagne in equal measure — but the concept is an eyebrow-raiser. It’s an acquired taste, but one worth adding to your repertoire, as the story of its creation is so riveting. First mixed in Brook’s Club in London, shortly after the death of Prince Albert in 1861, the club steward added Irish stout to guests’ flutes. His reasoning? Everyone should be in mourning, and thus wearing black — even the wine.


  • Champagne
  • Guinness Original


  1. Half-fill a chilled flute with Guinness
  2. Allow to settle
  3. Top up, slowly and carefully, with champagne

The French 75 is a spirited spin on champagne

One of the world’s most famous, readily-mixed champagne cocktails, the French 75 was first sipped during World War One, when famed barman Harry MacElhone blended gin, champagne and lemon juice at the New York Bar in Paris. Named for the powerful French 75mm field gun (because of the cocktail’s inimitable kick), it goes by the more glamorous, tongue-rolling translation of ‘Soixante Quinze’ in its native France.


  • Champagne
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Sugar Syrup
  • 50 ml Gin
  • Lemon Twist


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Add the lemon juice, sugar syrup and gin
  3. Shake well and strain into a chilled flute
  4. Top up with champagne
  5. Swirl gently, and garnish with the lemon twist

The Kir Royale is a fruit-forward twist on the traditional

A fruit-forward twist on the traditional fluteful of fizz, the Kir Royale is another cocktail to come from France. Allegedly, the first Kir Royale was mixed into existence by a Catholic priest — named Canon Felix Kir — in Dijon during the Nazi invasion of the country. His first attempt didn’t use champagne, but rather still white wine. But, after a little experimentation, he upgraded to the bubbly stuff — and never looked back.


  • Champagne
  • 1 tbsp Crème de Cassis
  • 2 fresh Blackberries


  1. Pour the crème de cassis into a chilled flute
  2. Gently add the champagne and leave to settle
  3. Garnish with the fresh blackberries

The Death in the Afternoon packs a serious punch

For our final cocktail, we’re taking a liquor-soaked leaf out of Ernest Hemingway’s book. Also know as the ‘Hemingway Champagne’, this cocktail is bright green, bold of taste and uses absinthe to give it a serious kick. Named for the author’s 1932 book, Death in the Afternoon, his original recipe called for the cocktail to “attain a proper opalescent milkiness”, before advising you “drink three to five of these slowly”.


  • Champagne
  • 40 ml absinthe


  1. Pour the absinthe into a chilled champagne glass
  2. Top up with iced champagne until milky

Want more inspiration from the great author? These are the best bottles of rum (to channel your inner Hemingway)…

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