The Cocktail Diaries: Classic Champagne Cocktail

by Rebekahcooked up on February 23, 2014

Last week I did an original cocktail recipe, and this week I’m doing one of the very classic classics. There’s an entire world of champagne-based cocktails out there, and most of them are delicious. I am one of those people who enjoys a good glass of (DRY) sparkling wine any old day of the week, so to have it incorporated into a cocktail is just a bonus.

I hope you all have enjoyed these cocktail posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them, and of course drinking them. It’s been really fun to do something a little outside my normal repertoire.

Classic Champagne Cocktail | PDXfoodlove

The classic champagne cocktail is a lesson in simplicity. There are four ingredients, including the garnish. Five if you want to add a second bitters like I did below. It’s also a celebration of bitters. So often they are in the background of cocktails, but this recipe uses more than double what you might normally put in a drink, and the bitters become the main flavor. It makes me want to try it with other types of bitters – can you imagine how good this would be with say, rhubarb bitters?

A note on the “champagne” – I am a firm believer that you don’t need to have capital-C “Champagne” to enjoy a good glass of sparkling wine, and you don’t necessarily even need to stick to something made with méthode champenoise if you are just drinking it as wine. But for this cocktail, stay the heck away from sweet sparklings. Moscato and cava will not do. Get the driest méthode champenoise bottle you can find. After all, you are putting a teaspoon of sugar into it.


Speaking of the sugar: traditionally the recipe calls for a sugar cube. I looked into buying these at the store and the only box I could find had 200 sugar cubes that would probably be sitting in my cupboard for over a year. Not happening. So instead, I used a teaspoon of sugar. It turned out just fine. If anyone has a source on buying a small package of sugar cubes (besides stealing them from a diner), tell me in the comments. 🙂

Here’s what you need per cocktail:
– Dry sparkling wine – brut or better.
– 1 tsp. regular white sugar, or 1 sugar cube
– Angostura bitters
– Lemon bitters, if you have them on hand
– Twist of lemon

Classic Champagne Cocktail | PDXfoodlove

Begin by rubbing the outside of the lemon peel around the rim of the glass.

Place the sugar in the glass, then soak with Angostura bitters (3-4 dashes), with 1 or 2 dashes of the lemon mixed in if you are using them.

Slowly pour the champagne/sparkling wine over top, using the flow of the water to make sure the sugar is dispersed. Garnish with lemon twist.


  1. Rebekah, try your local chocolatier for individually marked, decorated sugar cubes. Decorated cubes fit the 50s vibe of the cocktail and your attention-to-details aesthetic. They will absolutely be more expensive, but if you order ahead, you can get them custom for absolutely no mark-up. Some places you can buy them even individually. Champagne cocktails with monogram sugarcubes are my favorite thing for special parties, showers, etc. Just one letter works best, since it starts dissolving right away.

    Sugar cubes also freeze perfectly, throw some rice in to prefect disintegration upon thaw.


    Comment by Elle — February 24, 2014 at 11:20 am

  2. Awesome!! Thanks for the tip, L 🙂 xx

    Comment by bekky — February 24, 2014 at 11:34 am

  3. The lemon bitters appears to be homemade, and you mention rhubarb bitters… How does one make “bitters”? Last summer I made “all things rhubarb” – well, mostly several jam concoctions and a simple syrup. This could be a new adventure.

    Comment by Vickie Meinen — March 2, 2014 at 10:25 am

  4. Hey Vickie, you are right, I made the lemon bitters. I am sure there are several commercially available types, but to make them at home you basically make an infusion with an over-proof vodka, a lot of citrus peel and some unusual ingredients you can probably find at a homebrew shop. I used a recipe from this fab book, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas. It really wasn’t hard, just a matter of getting the right ingredients and then waiting 🙂 But I love using my homemade bitters! They are also great with sparkling water if you don’t want a boozy drink (which especially sounds great for rhubarb!). Good luck!

    Comment by bekky — March 2, 2014 at 9:48 pm

  5. I love champagne and combined with Meyer lemon extract sounds it is the bomb! Great recipe congratulations, following!

    Comment by Adriana Martin — March 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm

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