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This luxurious black velvet cocktail features just two ingredients: Guinness beer and champagne. It’s rich and bubbly, and fun to drink, especially on St. Patrick’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday!
All you need are 2 ingredients and 5 minutes to make this layered cocktail
Guinness stout and champagne… you would think that these two ingredients, both hailing from Europe, don’t see eye to eye. One is for enjoying at the pub, while the other is for sipping delicately.
This Black Velvet Cocktail, however, has changed the game! It’s a stout and champagne cocktail made by layering bubbly over Guinness beer in a champagne flute. This layering technique leaves you with a rich, yet bubbly cocktail with an impressive fizzy-on-top and black-on-the-bottom presentation.
Just like many of my other vintage cocktails, I first discovered this recipe in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of beer and sparkling wine; the flavors are well-balanced and effervescent without losing the rich and creamy integrity of the stout.
The surprisingly delicious combination can be enjoyed year-round, but it’s very well-suited to St. Patrick’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday celebrations. Drink up!
Who invented the black velvet cocktail?
The black velvet cocktail was first invented by a steward at the Brook’s Club in London the day after Prince Albert’s passing. After the Prince died from typhoid fever on December 14, 1861, the steward ordered the bartenders to mix Guinness beer with champagne because “even the champagne should be put into mourning”. The black cocktail was meant to mimic the dark clothing people were wearing in mourning.
Although this morbid invention has been around since the 1800s, the first written record of the recipe was found in Craddock’s book. Craddock doesn’t say anything about keeping the layers of stout and champagne separate, but it’s very much implied. Therefore, if you’re going to serve this cocktail for a less-morbid occasion, you may as well make it fancy!
What does a black velvet taste like?
The smooth, rich beer and fizzy, effervescent champagne are two contrasting textures that play well together in a flute glass. You won’t miss the rich and creamy texture of the stout; in fact, it’s made even lighter thanks to the dry sparkling wine. Most importantly, every sip of a black velvet beer cocktail is well-balanced.
You can easily play with these flavors. Instead of filling the glass halfway with stout, fill it ¼ full or ¾ full, depending if you or your guests prefer the taste of beer or champagne more.
Ingredients you need
A black velvet drink isn’t just easy to make, it’s also made with a very short ingredients list! Regardless of there only being two ingredients, there are still several substitutions available for both:
When the thought of a dark, robust Guinness beer pops into your head, maybe you have visions of Ireland or a trip to the pub. It may sound odd to pair it with bubbly champagne, but trust me, it’s a great pairing!
Guinness is a stout beer from Dublin, Ireland. It’s famously almost black in color with a very rich, creamy, and almost heavy flavor.
While Guinness is the most traditional and popular choice for this cocktail, you can technically use any stout beer you like. Or, if you aren’t a fan of stout beer, substitute it for a porter beer or a brown ale.
The first black velvet recipe was made with real champagne, which only comes from the Champagne region of France. You can use the real thing if you want, but it’s very pricey!
Brut sparkling wine is just as bubbly and fun as real champagne but doesn’t come with the shocking price tag. Brut also has a low sugar content while still maintaining a subtly sweet flavor, which pairs best with the nutty stout beer.
Extra dry prosecco could also work as a substitute for champagne. Just stay away from prosecco with a sweet or perfumed flavor profile because it won’t balance as well.
Pro tip: Pick up an extra bottle of bubbly so you can make a round of my Orange Pomegranate Sparkling Cocktails as well!
How to layer a cocktail
What really makes a black velvet drink special is the layers. The dark stout base is topped with translucent and golden sparkling wine, then finished with a foamy head on top. How impressive!
This is all thanks to what mixologists call the floating technique. You can master this technique on your own using these tips:
- Fill the champagne flutes halfway with beer.
- Place a spoon in the glass, rounded side up, hovering just above the stout.
- Slowly pour the champagne over the back of the spoon and into the glass.
- The champagne should float on top of the stout, creating a layered drink.
While this two-ingredient cocktail is simple and easy to make, there are a few tips you should know about to make it even better:
Champagne flutes give this stout cocktail a fancy feeling and make the floating technique a breeze to conquer, but they aren’t the only option. In fact, champagne is better suited to wider glasses according to this article by Liquor.com. Serving the cocktail in a white wine glass or coup glass “allows us to experience more of the aromatic spectrum” of the champagne.
But maybe the cocktail doesn’t need to be fancy. Instead, layer the black velvet beer cocktail into a frosted beer mug or shaker pint. This casual presentation is perfectly suited for Super Bowl Sunday parties and St. Patrick’s Day.
Keep it chilled
This cocktail isn’t shaken or poured over ice, which is why it’s important to keep both your ingredients and glassware chilled ahead of time. Pop the alcohol in the fridge the night before serving, and place the champagne flutes in the freezer. This way, you get to enjoy an ice-cold black velvet the next day.
It’s surprisingly easy to make a black velvet cocktail without alcohol. Guinness happens to make an alcohol-free stout that tastes just as great as the classic. As for the bubbly, use sparkling grape juice instead!
- 2 12-ounce bottles stout
- 1 740-milliliter bottle of champagne or sparkling wine
- Fill six champagne flutes halfway with stout.
- Place a spoon into the champagne flute, without touching the stout, with the rounded side facing up.
- Slowly pour the champagne onto the back of the spoon and into the champagne flute. The champagne should float on top of the stout creating a layered drink.
- Repeat with the remaining champagne.