Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

Champagne Cocktail

Champaign Cocktail in highball glass, with sugar cube bubbling in the bottom, on blue background / Tim Nusog

Champagne is a delicious beverage that requires no adulteration. And yet, it mixes so well with spirits, liqueurs, bitters and citrus that bartenders can’t help but use the sparkling wine in cocktails. Fortunately for the drinking public, that effort has resulted in countless Champagne drinks, from the French 75 to the Kir Royale. But perhaps none is more elegant or complementary to its chief ingredient than the aptly named Champagne Cocktail.

This simple classic originally appeared in “The Bartender’s Guide,” an 1862 tome by Jerry Thomas. Full of timeless recipes, the book has become an essential resource to bartenders, both professional and amateur. While some of the book’s recipes may be difficult to reproduce with today’s ingredients, the Champagne Cocktail is easy. Chances are high that you have everything you need to mix one: sparkling wine, Angostura bitters, sugar and a lemon twist.

Using those straightforward ingredients, follow the directions of bartender, consultant and educator Jacques Bezuidenhout, who provides this recipe.


Click Play to See This Champagne Cocktail Come Together

Rather than shaking or stirring your way to a finished product, you will build the cocktail right in your Champagne flute. A bitters-soaked sugar cube is dropped into the chilled, effervescent wine, quickly lending its color to the drink along with a thin, aggressive line of bubbles racing from the bottom to the surface.

This delicious low-ABV cocktail seems fit to improve any occasion. Drink one as an aperitif before dinner, or have one as a nightcap. Fill everyone’s outstretched hand with a flute on New Year’s Eve, Christmas, or any other celebration or holiday. You can’t go wrong when Champagne is on the menu.


  • 1 sugar cube

  • 2 to 4 dashes Angostura bitters

  • Champagne (or other sparkling wine), chilled, to top

  • Garnish: lemon twist


  1. Place a sugar cube on a bar spoon and douse with the bitters.

  2. Drop the cube into a chilled Champagne flute or similar glass.

  3. Fill the glass with Champagne or other sparkling wine.

  4. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Are Sugar Cubes Necessary for a Champagne Cocktail?

If you don’t have any sugar cubes (say, if you’re not a 20th-century tea drinker or responsible for giving treats to horses), you can use simple syrup as your sweetener. The drink will taste the same, but you’ll miss out on the fizzy effect. So, for the best results, procure some cubes. Asking for sugar is still a great way to meet neighbors—especially when you invite them over for a drink.

What’s the Difference Between Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco?

While the Champagne Cocktail is traditionally made with Champagne—a sparkling wine produced only in the Champagne region of France using the traditional method—other styles of sparkling wine can work just as well. Cava is most similar to Champagne in production style and is often a great value. Although Cava tends to offer less notes of bread and yeast than Champagne, it offers lovely notes of citrus and nuts and a well-balanced acidity that one would expect from a quality Champagne. If you prefer a lighter, fruitier option, Prosecco is a perfect choice.