Few mixed drinks manage to be both as elegant and festive as the champagne cocktail. Who doesn’t love a little auld lang syne and the luxurious sparkle of champagne when it gets together with old friends like bitters, citrus, and spirits? While there are variations on the drink, it’s changed little since the original was served in San Francisco in 1850—bitters, a sugar cube, and lemon peel. Of course, champagne cocktails have since danced in and out of vogue, with more serious cocktalians (not to mention humorless champagne purists) dismissing them as frivolous. We disagree. The best versions, where bitter and sweet, tart and toasty align in one resplendent cocktail, are pure magic. They also make for a happy alternative to spirit-based drinks—and, for that matter, to the traditional flute of champagne everyone else will be hoisting at midnight. Clink, clink.
The Primo Sips
Want a drink that really sizzles? Four local bars that serve champers at its best
A splash of gin, lemon juice, and a sprinkling of castor sugar topped with champagne make up a pitch-perfect version of this potent champagne cocktail.
The Tar Pit
Death in the Afternoon
Hemingway himself created this classic: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a champagne glass. Add iced champagne until it attains proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
The Steel Magnolia
This deceptively strong champagne cocktail packs a pretty punch with rum, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, strawberry, and basil.
Oldfield’s Liquor Room
Standing 8 Punch Bowl
If you’re traveling in a group, proceed directly to this beguiling mix of Torres 5 brandy, Plymouth sloe gin, house-made falernum with citrus and spice, and naturally, champagne.