Champagne Cocktail

In this episode, Robert Hess of demonstrates how to create a champagne cocktail with a sugar cube and Angostura bitters. This cocktail dates back over 200 years.


6 ounces chilled champagne

1 cube sugar

Angostura bitters


Soak sugar cube with Angostura bitters.

Place the cube in the bottom of a champagne flute.

Fill with champagne.

Garnish with a lemon twist.


Robert Hess 9 Sep 2007
11:44 am

In this episode I am a little cavalier about how I handle the champagne bottle. When opening a champagne bottle it is important to keep your hand/thumb, or better yet, a strong cloth napkin over the cork at all times to avoid any accidents if it happens to shoot out prematurely.

A less important note, is that when I talk about the “fancy” style of cocktails, I of course meant to say “lemon peel”, not “lime peel”

Z 22 Oct 2007
9:59 am

Drink Boy I love your site. Great information. Great list of drinks! BUT… Please do not take the cage off the top of a champagne bottle and wave it around the room. Once the cage is removed the bottle is a loaded gun.

Robert Hess 22 Oct 2007
12:16 pm

Z… please note the very first comment I posted here, in which I try to emphisize the importance of being careful with the champagne bottle.

Chris Dengler 4 Nov 2007
10:52 am

Hey Roberrt, it’s me Chris.  I didn’t know about the BITTERS part…

Robert Hess 5 Nov 2007
8:47 am

Chris, Chris, Chris… bitters are an extremely important part of this cocktail. You really need to get out more :->

Nathan 1 Jan 2008
10:20 am

I noticed you put sugar into this that didn’t appear to dissolve completely. Since you mentioned not doing this in other recipes such as the Old Fashioned, I was curious as to the reasoning behind this.

Chris Dengler 1 Jan 2008
10:49 am

I really do.  I’m SOMEWHAT remembering our margarita night party

Thomas 1 Jan 2008
2:54 pm

Robert, the Amazon link below is to an out-of-stock reprint of the Jerry Thomas book.  Is there another source of the new hardbound edition you showed us? 

Also, what are your thoughts on a splash (or an ounce) of cognac in this cocktail, a la Charles Baker?  I’ve made them this way with great (social) success. 

I like the way you soak and drop the sugar cube into the glass.  Very elegant!

Robert Hess 1 Jan 2008
4:50 pm


Yes… the sugar cube won’t fully dissolve using the method I show here. What I use to convince myself that this is fine, is that many sparkling wines are already a tad on the sweet side, and so it doesn’t hurt them to not quite get as much additional sugar added. If you think your drink isn’t quite sweet enough for you, then you can add a little simple syrup to the drink before adding the sugar cube.


Thomas 1 Jan 2008
7:21 pm

I think there’s a presentation aspect to the undissolved sugar cube, too.  Bubbles rising from it, etc.  Almost as much as the lemon curl.

Dimitris Zappas 8 Apr 2008
4:44 am

Hello my friend (i am feeling about you, like i know you well) Robert, i agree with you about this recipe, two years before i was write the following notes to IBA’s message board about the Champagne cocktail and the cognac:

<<Champagne Cocktail Gloria Swanson:

1 pint iced champagne, very dry
2 oz. of the best cognac
twist of lemon peel
Served in a tall Tom Collins glass with a cube or two of ice.
Other schools of thought like the same drink in modified containers and with a dash of Angostura Bitters and the author has seen it
Prepared for such exquisite drinkers as the late King of Spain with a teaspoon of strawberry liqueur in place of the sugar and bitters.>>

From the book:
The Stork Club Bar Book - Lucius Beebe

page 45, Champagne Cocktail:

1 lamp sugar, saturated with Angostura
1 cube of ice
twist of lemon peel
Fill with chilled champagne and serve in champagne glass.

form the book:

Put into a wine glass one lump of Sugar, and saturate it with angostura Bitters.
Ha?ing added to this 1 lump of Ice,
fill the glass with Champagne,
squeeze ?n top a piece of lemon peel, and serve with a slice of orange.

Charles H. Baker Jr.
From the book :
JIGGER, BEAKER & GLASS-drinking around the world
-from Charles H. Baker Jr.
Page no 21 to 24

1. Champagne cocktail no 1 -Maharajah’s Burra-Peg - INDIA
Big Goblet-14to16 0z
2 jiggers of chilled Cognac
drop in a lump of sugar doused with angostura
fill up with chilled fine champagne
and garnish with a spiral of green lime.

2. Champagne cocktail no 2 - Jimmy Rousvelt - USA
Big thin gobblet - 16oz
finely cracked ice
in the diametrical center of this frosty mass went a lump of sugar well saturated with Angostura
2 jiggers of good French Cognac
then fill the glass with chilled champagne
finally float carefully 2 tbsp Green Chartreuse.

3. Champagne cocktail no 3 - JOCKY CLUB - Rio de Janeiro
Inside of a large tapering champagne cocktail glass build a tower of 4 ice cubes crown it with a
lump of sugar saturated with 4 dashes of orange bitters,
2 sticks of fresh pinneapple,
a spiral of green lime,
and fill the glass with well chilled champagne medium dry,
float carefully 1 tbsp of Cointreau.

4. Champagne cocktail no 4 - Imperial Cossack Crusta - Far East

Take a large champagne cocktail glass and ice it well,
split a green lime or lemon inside the glass and rimmed with sugra ansd putt the sugar inside the
glass and upside down the glass to emptying ,
add in a bar glass with 3 ice cubes and stirring:
2 dashes of orange bitters,
1 jigger of cognac and 1/2 that of kummel.
Empty this into goblet, fill with chilled dry champagne.

5. Champagne cocktail no 5

Ivan R.S. 12 Apr 2008
10:59 pm

Chers mr. Hess!

Congratulations for your didactic labour.

It is a pleasure to me to say that here you have a bunch of fans (my friends and myself), and also very interested students.

Thank you very very much for the video lessons professor… our parties improved very much with them

If you come back to Barcelona soon, be sure i will show you the cocktail scen in here (if you want), and surely i will invite you to a terrific “old fashioned” at the boadas

truly yours
Ivan R.S.

Mark 24 Apr 2008
7:47 pm

Another fantastic episode, Robert.  I’m curious as to your thoughts and experience with dealing with champagne “wounded soldiers” (opened but not entirely consumed bottles).  Do recorkers really help all that much?  And what about that spoon in the bottleneck trick?

Mark 24 Apr 2008
9:59 pm

I feel like a fool after just watching your most recent episode in which you address this very question.  Apparently you somehow knew my question in advance.  Cheers, Robert.

Robert Hess 29 Apr 2008
3:12 pm


Of course the best solution is to never have any leftovers!!! :->

Blair Frodelius 18 Jun 2008
5:51 am

Just a quick question: When did cubed sugar come into vogue?  It seems to me that Jerry Thomas would have used loaf sugar.

Tristan Stephenson 16 Dec 2008
2:02 am


Nice demonstration and just the right amount of history.

Personally though I would have used less bitters and brown sugar. I also would have put the sugar in first, that way you get a little more of a fade in colour moving up through the drink (and less consistency, but then the drink gets sweeter anyway).

Also - chilled glass?

I wasn’t sure if perhaps you were sticking faithfully to the Bon Vivant specs?

Cheers anyway and feel free to check out my blog…


IanRafferty 1 Jun 2009
5:34 pm

Mr Hess, it would be great if possible to receive some feedback about this.  I, like the previous poster always use a brown sugar cube, as stated in most(?) respected cocktail books.  Also adding the sugar first, then soaked with a drop or two of Angostora, followed by Champagne.  Is there any specific reason why the sugar is added afterwards.  To me, this only adds complication which looks somewhat awquard.

Also, tilting any Champagne bottle at 45 degrees before easing the cork, will almost always dispell opportunity for the Champagne to react and “erupt” somewhat.

Absolutely loving the videos.  A real education.  A little off topic, but Im a big fan of Bourbon whisky.  More so, when incorperated in cocktails.  Except I never really appreciated the Old Fashioned.  Until Sunday evening, when after my shift, I hesitantly convinced myself to give it one last try.  Following your instruction, I was rather intensely suprised, how beautifully balanced this cocktail is.  Normally my palette tends to experience difficulties with Angostora.  Not any more.  Much appreciated Mr Hess!

Robert Hess 2 Jun 2009
4:12 am

Ian, I feel that the use of a brown sugar cube is not nearly as common as a ordinary white sugar cube. Although the use of brown would bring a little extra flavor to the mix. Which sometimes could be good, other times perhaps not. The choice of which type of champagne to use I think would make more of a difference here.

I am adding the sugar to the champagne primarily since I like the look of the sugar cube decending in a cascade of bubbles to the bottom of the glass. For the end result, it doesn’t make a difference one way or the other besides that.

Celestino 4 Mar 2013
7:14 am

Greetings Mr. Hess!

For ages now I’ve been wanting to make a “champagne cocktail”. I’ve read it from many sites/books and what-nots…and today I finally bought a two-set of champagne flutes (for good champagne cocktails, still craving for those 50’s saucers though!) for this occasion (and it’s my wife’s birthday soon so we’d be enjoying some cocktails then, too).

A couple of notes I made during my cocktail creation.

1) The angostura + sugar you showed. While I think this is a good trick to know especially with any tall glass (since managing to pour angostura so it hits the sugar cube from the bottom of the flute is hard) I managed to spill some angostura. Well obviously the cube needs to fill the whole bottle end from the bitters. Another reasons why I’m a supporter of the “napkin+cube” style.

2) Well indeed I used sparkling wine (brut), they come in handy 1 serving bottles so I didn’t have to buy a whole big bottle for one cocktail.

3) I added a tad < of 1 oz. of cognac before pouring the sparking wine. It seems this “maneuver” makes mine a “classic” champagne cocktail

And this is how it went down:

5/5 Mr. Hess, 5 out of 5. I especially liked the part where the sugar starts to dissolve whilst drinking making the cocktail sweeter to the end!

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