For some, winter signifies the anticipation of ski trips and memories of Asti Spumante commercials (what a jerk!) For others, it means hard-won-physique-covering-puffy-coats and rising for work in the dark/returning home in much of the same. Here are some things to be thankful for:

1. It doesn't snow in L.A.

2. You Tube exists

3. The earlier to dark, the earlier to drink

In this spirit, we explore the versatility of the first-ever “evolved cocktail” invented in the 1850's, called the Champagne Cocktail. As champagne is considered a socially acceptable AM libation — bellinis, mimosas, straight no chaser — we thought it prudent to stress that the Champagne Cocktail was termed a “morning bracer,” about which the following verse from the era elucidates:

And the morn shall be filled with cocktail.

And the cares of the early day,

Like disappointed collectors,

Shall silently slip away.

Turn the page to find the recipe for this classic bubbly concoction, plus a few twists.

Champagne Cocktail

From: Eric Alperin of The Varnish.

Makes: 1 drink


1 sugar cube

5-6 dashes of Angostura Bitters

1 lemon peel

1. Place one sugar cube in a low, wide, glass.

2. Shake Angostura bitters over the top of the sugar cube until soaked – 5-6 dashes.

3. Fill a flute with Champagne 3/4 of the way to the top.

4. Drop in the soaked cube.

5. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Dale Degroff suggests “for a stronger drink, add a float of cognac or Grand Marnier. Eric Alperin offers these other Champagne cocktails which he says aren't necessarily variations but damn tasty:


From: Eric Alperin of The Varnish.

Makes: 1 drink

1 oz. light rum

1/2 oz. lime

1/2 oz. honey

1. Toss lightly together with ice the run, lime and honey.

2. Strain into a flute and top with Champagne.

Note: When made as directed, the honey often forms into a giant clump in the shaker. To avoid this, combine three parts honey to one part hot water and stir together until combined.

French 75

From: David Wondrich – Esquire's resident Cocktail Historian

Makes: 1 drink

2 ounces London dry gin

1 teaspoon superfine sugar

1/2 ounce lemon juice

5 ounces Champagne

1. Shake well with cracked ice, the gin, sugar and lemon juice.

2. Strain into a Collins glass half-filled of cracked ice and top with Champagne.

Death In The Afternoon

From: David Wondrich – Esquire's resident Cocktail Historian

Makes: 1 drink

1 1/2 ounces absinthe

4 ounces Champagne

1. Pour absinthe into a champagne flute.

2. Add Champagne until it clouds up — approx. 4 ounces.

A tip from Dave Wondrich, “If you lack the kind of decadent friends who engage in pretentious pursuits like bootlegging absinthe, use Absente.”

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