Whiskey And Champagne Is A Pairing Made In Cocktail Heaven

When you think of champagne cocktails, you probably jump to gin or cognac-based drinks, like a French 75 (or even a French 75 with cognac). But have you ever considered adding whiskey to your champagne? It's not as radical an idea as you might think.

"Whiskey and champagne/sparkling wines can make a beautiful pairing," Nik Sparks, the Head Bartender & Beverage Director at The Wooly in NYC, told Food Republic. "Obviously, both occupy very broad categories with numerous expressions/styles. However, when chosen with even a modest level of discernment (and in modest proportions), a dry sparkling wine with notes of citrus and fruit (think apples) matched with a mellow bourbon can offer both compliment and balance."

Sparks recommends the Seelbach, which he calls "a tragically underserved example" of a bourbon and sparkling wine pairing. The drink calls for bourbon, Cointreau, Angostura bitters, and Peychaud's bitters, which are stirred with ice and then topped with sparkling wine. Top it all off with an orange twist garnish.

A champagne cocktail that packs a punch

Another route to take with a sparkling wine and whiskey cocktail is to make a punch. This twist on a French 75 — with fresh lemon juice, whiskey, and sparkling wine — is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. You can try adding Chambord for a nice raspberry twist, or aromatic bitters. A few ounces of ginger liqueur would also be welcome, as would blackberry liqueur, if you can find it. Treat it like a choose-your-own-adventure, and experiment until you find a flavor palate you like. Garnish with Luxardo cherries, cranberries, or other fruit.

When selecting your sparkling wine for a whiskey-based cocktail, you probably don't want to splurge for a rare Barons de Rothschild vintage. The toasty brioche notes will get lost in the drink, so instead look for something that will highlight the caramel notes of bourbon, or the spicy bite of rye. One fantastic option for this is Crémant de Limoux. Made in the southern French Languedoc wine region, Crémant de Limoux is generally distinguished by a crisp acidity, dazzling effervescence, and strong notes of apple and citrus. It's also far cheaper than most champagnes. (Prosecco or cava will also work, as will a California sparkling wine. The trick here is to find something that is fruity without being too sweet.)