Published on July 3rd, 2014 | by Adrienne


Summer Sparkling Cocktails

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really been a fan of weirdly colored beverages to celebrate holidays. You can keep the St. Paddy’s Day green beer. The bright orange pumpkin martini (or whatever it’s pretending to be) for Halloween. And the red, white & blue concoctions for July 4th. There may be some out there worth trying, but I just don’t really feel the need to color coordinate my beverages with the American Flag. Shoes, maybe. Cocktails, no thanks.

This of course begs the question: what are you drinking instead? Well, since the 4th of July is a birthday celebration for our nation, I think the occasion calls for some bubbly.

This is a cocktail website after all, so naturally not just plain bubbly (although that is delicious too). Bubbly Cocktails. Specifically, the Classic Champagne Cocktail, and variations thereof. Happily, this also makes for a really fun DIY spread for your July 4th (or any other summer get-together) guests.

The Basics

The Classic Champagne Cocktail is one of the simplest cocktails on the planet. It is also my go-to when in upscale places of dubious cocktail prowess, and consists of:

1 white sugar cube
Soaked with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters
Topped with Brut Champagne (or dry sparkling wine from somewhere else)
Lemon twist garnish

It’s simple and elegant and delicious.

Of course there are many other kinds of bitters besides Angostura, not to mention all other manner of fruit and non-fruit that could be used for garnish. This is where the variations on a theme come in. Like Lemon Bitters and mint. Or Peychaud’s Bitters and strawberries. It’s fun to experiment with lots of different combinations, and unusual bitters flavors, like Cardamom or Lavender.


You can also add a Chamagne/sparkling wine float to many cocktails. Simply make the drink as you normally would, then top up with bubbly. It’s delicious with the East Side Cocktail (2oz gin, 1 oz lime, 3/4 oz simple syrup, 3 slices cucumber, sprig of mint), or on top of a Daiquiri, or even in the Chicago Cocktail, which is essentially a Manhattan with Champagne (2 oz Rye, 1 oz Sweet Vermouth, 2 dashes Orange Bitters, topped with Champagne).

Make it a DIY Party:

  • Grab whatever kinds of bitters you have on hand. Or go buy some. The Bitter Truth makes a handy bitters travel set that includes five flavors and runs about $20.
  • Invest in some inexpensive dry bubbly (if you want to buy American, Gruet from New Mexico is actually pretty good and costs $10-15). You can also add rosé sparkling to the mix.
  • Finally, pick your garnishes. I recommend lemon, orange, grapefruit, mint, strawberries and raspberries. Set it all up on a table and have your guests build their own cocktails.
  • To note: The sugar cube doesn’t really make the cocktail “sweet”, but rather helps bring out the flavors of the bitters and the garnishes. You can skip it if you really want to.

The Bubbly Cocktail Bar set up at an event I worked recently for Domaine Somm


Photos: @StuffSchulz on Instagram and Esquire

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About the Author

Adrienne is one of the co-founders of Dipsology. When she’s not drinking, sleeping & breathing cocktails, she can be found in Napa, drinking wine instead. You can read about her non-cocktail adventures on her blog and follow her @alstillman.

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