Our doyen of drinks Eric Twardzik considers a decadent Drake's favourite: the Black Velvet.
Illustration by John Molesworth.
The Black Velvet cocktail may mark the first time Champagne was raised not in celebration, but in mourning. As the story goes, in 1861 a barkeep at Brooks’s Club in London topped off a glass of bubbles with Guinness to grieve the death of Prince Albert.
The Champagne’s pitch-black topping may have been intended as funerary clothing, but the unlikely union of sparkling wine and stout proves delightful in the glass. The effervescence of the Champagne cuts into the creaminess of the Guinness, producing a tall drink with a smooth, silky texture.
The Black Velvet has become a team favorite at Drake’s (where it’s more often than not raised in good cheer). Its ease of creation, and low alcohol content, allow it to be conjured in under a minute and enjoyed in the mid-afternoon.
Simplicity is one of the drink’s strengths, but the more ambitious among us can get fancy with the aid of a spoon. After adding the Champagne, slowly pour the Guinness into the glass over a spoon held bottom-side-up. Doing so ensures that the beer will float above the Champagne rather than combine, a nifty trick owing to the liquids’ differing densities.
1 part Champagne
1 part Guinness
Pour the Champagne into a Champagne flute or highball glass. Top with Guinness, poured slowly over a reverse-side spoon if desired.