I’m a huge fan of champagne. I’ll admit that’s not the most outrageous of statements, but still, I stand by it. Oh, and cut the pedantic stuff out — sparkling wine from California and elsewhere is great too. While technically the wine should come from the Champagne region for people to consider it champagne “officially,” let’s not let the details derail us from a good story. If it’s quality, tasty and bubbly, I’m a fan. Now, if it’s good solo, it’s also good in a cocktail. Let’s do, shall we? On to the Death of the Champagne Cocktail!
My father, who is himself not much of a drinker, will occasionally enjoy a nice OJ and Pernod. Growing up, all I had to do was smell it and I knew I didn’t want to try it.
At least, not until I was a little older.
Then, when I finally did try it — shock of shocks — I wasn’t a fan. Black licorice and I aren’t the best of mates.
However, a little older, a little wiser and after the absinthe renaissance, now I can see what my father was onto with his cocktail of choice. It’s not a bad little combination.
That got me thinking, OJ + absinthe is good, OJ + champagne is good, therefore OJ + champagne + absinthe must be good.
Turns out, not quite.
Alice and I fiddled with fresh OJ, but we could never quite get the proportions right. The absinthe always took over, killing all the other flavors.
That got me thinking, if the classic Champagne Cocktail (that’d be a sugar cube, bitters and champagne) worked (PS, it does), then what if we adjusted to use orange bitters instead of regular ones? That I knew could give us a strong orange flavor that would stand up to absinthe.
I knew that because the Hemingway classic Death in the Afternoon (absinthe and champagne) worked, then we should be able to combine these two functional cocktails together to finally find success.
Finally, nailed it.
Now, if you’re like both Alice and I, settle in and enjoy a Death of the Champagne Cocktail (now you see where the name comes from: Death in the Afternoon + Champagne Cocktail).
However, what should you do if you’re not sure what bubbles to add to this? Know what you should do? Get yourself to Bubblyfest!
It’s coming up in Avila (full disclosure, I went to school at Cal Poly and Avila is amazing), they have over 50 (!) bubbly producers and you get to try a whole bunch of tasty, fizzy, yummy drinks. If you’re wondering, “Should I go?” The answer is simple: yes.
I mean, unless you don’t like champagne, sparkling wine or, you know, have good taste. Then by all means, you do you. The rest of us? We’ll be heading to Avila for Bubblyfest (by way of stopping by Splash first — nothing gets you ready for a few drinks like epic clam chowder).
And now, onto the Death of the Champagne Cocktail!
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- ⅛ tsp. absinthe
- 4-6 oz. sparking wine
- Orange rind
- Glass type: champagne flute
- This is a tricky one.
- Add your sugar to your flute.
- Add your bitters.
- Add your absinthe.
- Top with bubbly.