There’s never really a bad time for Champagne, but the holiday season is an especially good time. Of course, sparkling wine works perfectly on its own, but in the event that you’re stuck with leftovers or perhaps a magnum of the stuff, or simply want to celebrate with something a little stronger, there are a few easy recipes that’ll do the trick.
The most obvious way to approach the Champagne cocktail is, well, the Champagne Cocktail, along with the modern riffs it’s inspired. By breaking from the rigidity of the original—subbing sparkling rosé for Champagne, for example, or adding a splash of herbal liqueur—the 19th-century drink can be anything that you want it to be. Among the more unorthodox takes on the template is Natasha David’s version, which combines Suze and passion fruit liqueur with a topper of the sparkling wine of your choice. Shannon Tebay’s Kaleidoscope Eyes takes a few liberties of its own, reinterpreting both the Pornstar Martini and the Champagne Cocktail in a mashup of the two. After all, notes Tebay, the former is “essentially a passion fruit Champagne cocktail.”
It should be noted that some of the more spirit-forward interpretations of the traditional Champagne cocktail veer into French 75 territory, itself a spin on the classic. If a luscious, citrusy drink is what you’re after, turn to Tim Miner’s exemplary version of the drink. Along the same lines, though without the citrus, Dan Sabo’s take on the Champagne Cocktail likewise slips a measure of VSOP Cognac into the mix for an added kick and more pronounced body. The rosy-hued Alfonso, meanwhile, takes the template in a fruit-forward direction, with its addition of Dubonnet Rouge to the typical trappings.
The royale format—consisting of any spirit-forward cocktail plus a Champagne topper—is another worthy approach to the Champagne cocktail. In the Colombe, for example, sparkling wine rounds out a base of Armagnac, and is flavored threefold with cherry notes thanks to a measure of Maurin Quina, a float of kirschwasser and a brandied cherry garnish. The I.B.F. Pick-Me-Up, a staple of 1920s and ’30s Paris and London bars, meanwhile, combines Cognac and Cointreau with minty Fernet-Branca for a rich, layered drink made sparkling by a topper of Crémant de Loire. As the drink’s creator, Zac Overman, explains, sparkling wine can turn any cocktail fun: “It also tickles your nose, and it’s just fucking delightful.”