In this Episode, we are going to show you how to make a Champagne Cocktail as well as discuss the history of the Cocktail overall.
A Cocktail is an American drink. From a historical standpoint, one thing we do have is what we believe is the very first manual for bartenders.
Here is a copy of a second edition of that manual. The second edition was printed in 1876. It’s by Jerry Thomas or also called Professor Jerry Thomas. The first edition was printed in 1862 and it’s not just a Cocktail manual. It’s actually a manual for bartenders including various mixed drinks. The total number of recipes was over 200. For Cocktails however, there are only 10 Cocktail recipes. Imagine today, we have what you might consider thousands of Cocktail recipes out there or thousands of drinks that you think are Cocktails.
So what then is a Cocktail?
In 1806, we have a reference printed in the Balance and Columbian Repository from the New England states. A reference where an editor has to define what a Cocktail is to one of his readers. He defines it taskly, spirit of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters. It’s important to understand the bitters in there because he also called it a bittered sling, referencing a drink that predates the Cocktail, the sling which was just basically spirits of any kind, sugar and water. The bitters is what makes the drink. Without bitters, it’s not a cocktail, and for almost a hundred years that was the case.
Now, when I talk about this old book, their hard to find and expensive, you know everyone’s on WiFi and on eBay or you can find them on some of these used books websites and stuff like that.
Fortunately, we do have a company that is recently published a reprint addition. It’s virtually identical to the original 1862 edition of it but cost for less. We’ll make sure that on the Small Screen Network website, we stick a link to where you could pick up one of these copies if you want it.
Now, when talking about the Cocktail and what is a Cocktail. Let me just look through a couple of the recipes in here that he called a Cocktail Recipe. He talks about the Brandy Cocktail, the Fancy Brandy Cocktail, the Whisky Cocktail, the Champagne Cocktail, the Gin Cocktail, and the Fancy Gin Cocktail.
Each one of this is essentially was a spirit, a sweetening agent, ice and bitters. That creates the concept of Cocktails. Spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.
Now, what made a Fancy Cocktail, a Fancy Cocktail rather than just simply a regular cocktail was, it would take a piece of lime peel and rub it along the edge of the glass making it just a little bit fancier. Today, that’s a common practice where most bartenders make any type of Cocktail or most mixed drinks. Let’s get back to the Champagne Cocktail. The recipe equal to the Champagne Cocktail is a half teaspoonful of sugar, one or two dashes of bitters, a piece of lemon peel, fill a tumbler 1/3 full of broken ice and fill the balance with wine in which case he was meaning Champagne. Shake well and serve.
Now, shaking Champagne is not something I recommend unless it had gotten flat snd maybe he was using flat Champagne when he made the Champagne Cocktails. But going back to you right now is make you a Champagne Cocktail showing you how simple and easy it is to make a Cocktail that dates back over 200 years.
We of course start out with Champagne. The last time I did this on camera, it blew all over on me, so I’ll be a little careful this time. Champagne of course comes from France. If it did come from France, it has to be called sparkling wine.
One of the stories about the origins of Champagnes says that Dom Pérignon invented Champagne or discovered the process or whatever, that’s not actually true. They were making Champagne for many, many years before that. What Dom Pérignon did is he basically came up with the whole package, a bottle that would not break the cork that will able to be pulled up a bit. Prior to this, bottles would be constantly breaking, the Champagne bottles actually are very interesting bottle because it’s extremely heavy but it’s made in three pieces. You have the two sides of the Champagne bottle and then there’s top pieces actually at the second piece that is part of the process of making sure it doesn’t break. That is why you can see people doing the savoring then will then take a sword and pop off the top of the bottle. Really, what they’re doing is cracking off the piece right on the top here and taking advantage of the fact that this stop piece is a separate piece entirely.
I’m not going to do it here because I am indoors. That isomething you want to make sure you do outdoors with experience and not pointing in any place where you’re going to hit anybody with the cork. So let’s see what sort of mess I make here.
So to make a Champagne Cocktail, you start with the Champagne glass; you take the Champagne, and gently pour it into the glass. Then to add the sugar and the bitters the way I do it, is I simply take angostura bitters, take a sugar cube put it on the top of the bitters bottle, hold it and invert it to allow the bitters to soak into the cube a little bit, then you take the cube, drop them into Champagne. Pour the garnish. I used a lemon twist using a channel knife taking a fresh lemon, if you let a lemon get old, the twist eventually is very hard to get off of it. You’ll notice I’m doing this over the glass pointing the peel at the glasses I'm doing it. What this does is it takes all the oils that are being expressed out of the peel and putting them on top of the drink.
Essentially, making this very similar to what Jerry Thomas would have called a Fancy Cocktail, so we’d call this a Fancy Champagne Cocktail. I'm now taking a stir rod and taking lemon peel and then twisting it around the stir rod. I'll end up with the nice spiral. And there we have the Champagne Cocktail.