Glass of black velvet cocktail made from a combination of stout and champagne
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The Black Velvet

The Black Velvet is a two-ingredient mixed drink that combines stout and champagne in one glass. The idea of combining sparkling wine and stout might seem sacrilege, but the blend creates a delicious cocktail beer.

The stout reduces the champagne’s sharp, tart edge while the champagne neutralizes the stout’s syrupy taste.

The Black Velvet isn’t a new creation—it has been around for a long time. Its silky-smooth flavor, dark color, and frothy head after pour has made it a famous drink.

About and History

The drink is thought to have originated from Brook’s Club, London, in 1861. Other sources claim it was first made in the Shelbourne Hotel, Ireland. What isn’t disputed is that the Black Velvet was made during a period in which Britain was in mourning. It was served to commemorate the passing of Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, on 14th December 1861.

During this grieving time, mourners wanted to take a sympathy drink. Champagne didn’t fit this profile. A bartender therefore proceeded and added porter to the champagne to make it mourn. The taste was so refined that Black Velvet became a sensation. The drink also typified the mourners’ black armbands.

In 18th-century London, low-brow porter was very popular among the working and lower classes. These groups couldn’t afford champagne, and the mixture of the two drinks created a drink they cherished. Black Velvet was no longer a mourning drink but a luxurious cocktail.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Throughout the years, the drink has had a few names. It was once referred to as Champagne Velvet, while in Europe, it was often called the Bismarck Cocktail. The latter stems from the German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. The mixture of champagne and stout was said to be Bismarck’s favorite drink.

Ingredients

Serves 1

  • 3 ounces champagne (sparkling wine)
  • 3 ounces stout (Guinness beer)

How to Prepare Black Velvet

The standard proportions are 50/50, but you can alter the quotas to your liking. You can add the two ingredients in any order. However, according to the drink’s origins, you should start with the champagne before adding the stout.

Steps

  1. Gather the ingredients in separate glasses.
  2. Half fill a wine flute with champagne.
  3. Slowly top up the flute with Guinness stout. Avoid overspills by being steady. You can also pour the stout over the back of a spoon to achieve a layered effect.
  4. Stir gently.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Black Velvet should ideally have a dark, frothy head.

Preparation Tips

Black Velvet is best served cold. Don’t add ice to the drink. Instead, chill the two ingredients before use.

Although most people use champagne in Black Velvet, any sparkling wine could work. You might opt for relatively inexpensive wines like Prosecco or Cava.

The same applies to the stout. You don’t have to use Guinness but can opt for any strong stout.

Variants

Black Velvet becomes a Velvet if you replace stout with porter. If you use any beer, the drink becomes the Halstead Street Velvet.

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