Our award-winning resident mixologist Behzad Nvaziri shares his five favourite sparkling wine cocktails in honour of Global Champagne Day.
The sound of a Champagne cork easing its way out of the bottle has to be one of the most evocative noises around – hearing it can be enough to put you in a celebratory mood. Combine Champagne and cocktails, and you’ve got a party.
The Champagne Cocktail
The first record of this classic cocktail is found in the bartender bible How to Mix Drinks, penned by the legendary US ‘father of mixology’ Jerry Thomas in 1862. “It is as old as its mention, yet simple and easy on the palate,” Behzad says.
To celebrate Global Champagne Day this month, we asked the Star’s resident mixologist Behzad Vaziri for his favourite sparkling wine cocktails. Here’s five to try.
- Place a raw (brown) sugar cube at the bottom of a champagne flute and add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters.
- Gently top up with Champagne.
- Garnish with a long ribbon of lemon peel.
Behzad’s tip: To give the drink an extra kick, Behzad recommends adding 15ml of cognac. For a trick straight out of a professional’s playbook, you could also add a drop of citric acid solution: “to balance the acidity”.
‘Royales’ are a festive class of cocktails topped with Champagne, the most famous being Kir Royale (a classic French cocktail with the blackcurrant liqueur crème de cassis topped with Champagne).
Behzad recently created his own take on a Royale for the Flying Fish Bar and BLACK Bar & Grill at The Star Sydney. “We introduced sloe gin and ginger syrup to make a dry cocktail with spicy notes,” he says.
- 30ml Sloe gin (Behzad uses Elephant Sloe Gin).
- 15ml ginger syrup (1-part sugar to 1-part ginger tea, made using fresh ginger).
- Champagne, to top.
- Build sloe gin and ginger syrup in a champagne flute.
- Top with Champagne.
Behzad’s tip: Behzad likes a blanc de blancs for this – a sophisticated sparkling wine made using all-white grapes, usually chardonnay.
We can thank the Italians for this delicious blend of vodka, lemon sorbet and sparkling wine. Behzad’s version, on the menus at The Star’s signature restaurants, is the ‘Lychee Sgroppino’ – with house-made yuzushu (yuzu-infused sake), lychee sorbet and Perrier–Jouët Grand Brut Champagne. Start with this basic recipe then find your twist.
- Build 30ml vodka (Behzad uses Ketel One Citron) and a scoop of lemon sorbet into a champagne coupe or martini glass.
- Top with Champagne
- Serve with a spoon.
Behzad’s tip: While lemon sorbet is the traditional choice, Behzad encourages experimenting with a scoop of the flavour of your choosing.
Getting its name from the Italian word for ‘mistake’, this cocktail is rumoured to be the result of a happy accident behind a bar in Milan in the 1970s – when a busy bartender reached for the prosecco by accident. The riff on a Negroni replaces the gin with sparkling wine.
- 30ml Campari
- 30ml Sweet vermouth
- 30ml Sparkling wine
- Build Campari and vermouth in a chilled rocks glass.
- Top up with a sparkling wine.
- Garnish with an orange peel.
Behzad’s tip: Behzad suggests using a dry (‘brut’) Champagne or Italian sparkling wine like prosecco for this recipe.
The original version of this time-tested classic cocktail featured cognac, citrus and Champagne, but many modern versions swap out the brandy for gin with refreshing results.
- 60ml gin or cognac
- 15ml lemon juice
- 10ml simple syrup
- Champagne, to top
- Shake gin or cognac, lemon juice and simple syrup.
- Strain into a champagne flute.
- Top up with a dry Champagne.
- Garnish with a long strip of lemon peel.
Behzad’s tip: A bar staple used in countless cocktails; a simple syrup is a straightforward mix of 1 part sugar to 1 part water.