Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

Black Velvet

Black Velvet cocktail in a collins glass, with a frothy head sitting atop the dark beer / Tim Nusog

Intricate cocktails have their time and place—ideally when you’re in no hurry, seated at a bar, and someone else is doing the work. But sometimes you just want a simple drink that you can construct quickly with minimal ingredients. Your repertoire is probably stocked with a few easy favorites already, like the Gin & Tonic. But two-ingredient drinks run the gamut from spirit-and-mixer sips to less-boozy drinks like the Mimosa that combine orange juice with Champagne. Then there’s the Black Velvet, a merger of Guinness beer and sparkling wine that works better than its chief components might suggest.

The Black Velvet has been around for a while. It was supposedly created in 1861 at Brooks’s Club in London (itself dating back to 1764) to honor the passing of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. The dark beer added a somber note to the usually festive Champagne.

The drink couldn’t be easier to make. Pour some Guinness into a glass, top it with Champagne and you’re done. That’s the most common combination, but some people choose to skip the Champagne and use hard cider. Try it both ways to see which version you like best. It’s a fun experiment, and, hey, you need to finish that open beer anyway. And once you’ve gone down that road, you might as well make the Black & Tan next. This all-beer beverage combines a stout beer like Guinness with a pale ale, usually Bass.


  • Guinness beer, chilled

  • Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled, to top


  1. Fill a highball glass halfway with chilled Guinness.

  2. Top with chilled Champagne, pouring it over the back of a spoon into the glass.