kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits, travel & lifestyle writer / wine educator


Chocolaty bubbles that are easy on your stomach

Last week I headed to Arlington's EatBar to attend one of Gina Chersevani's ongoing themed cocktail seminars--this one was all about sparkling wine cocktails for the holiday season. Gina made and discussed three great drinks (and we lucky students got to taste them...) We started with the Classic French 75 (one of my faves since it's got both gin and bubbly in it...). I've seen this on more and more cocktail menus lately, and if it's well-made, it's fabulous. Unfortunately, some mixologists either don't know, forget or are just too lazy to shake the gin, lemon juice and sugar with ice before adding it to the flute and topping it with Champagne, leaving you with a tepid drink that's just not so appealing. Gina (of course) knows the proper method, and hers was tart, spritzy and refreshing. She said she tried all different gins, and Bombay seems to work best. I'm more of a Plymouth fan, myself.

Next up was her 2009 cocktail, with vodka, Lillet Blanc (you can also use Rouge, but it obviously adds color. Gina used the Rouge since she said it's harder to get Blanc in VA, and I think it adds a beautiful hue, especially for the holidays), gently muddled kumquats (I love these little citrus fruits...), sugar and Champagne. What a great way to kick off the start of the New Year.

We ended the evening with her take on the Black Velvet. This drink originated in England, where the upper crust enjoyed drinking stout just like the working man, but it just seemed too common for them. So they added Champagne and voila--a classier drink that fitted them. Gina's version adds dark creme de cacao, and has cocoa powder and sugar as a garnish. She used Murphy's stout, but of course you can pour Guinness instead (and she actually she prefers Yuengling Stout, from my home state of PA, as it's budget friendly for a large group). The chocolate really brings out the chocolate notes from the stout, but I'm a Guinness purist and I actually prefer it all by itself. But it's a fab alternative to dessert for your New Year's Eve party. (And Gina said it's a good way to appease those guests who prefer cream-based drinks. Cream plus alcohol equals a tough time for your stomach, especially when you are imbibing too much--like at a New Year's Eve party.)

Black Velvet #2
Courtesy of Gina Chersevani, EatBar, Arlington, VA

1 oz. chilled dark creme de cacao
6 oz. Stout beer (Murphy's, Guinness, Yuengling, etc.)
2 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine (Cava is a great substitution)
1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. granulated sugar

Combine cocoa powder and sugar. The cocoa mixture will be used to garnish the cocktail.

Pour the creme de cacao into a champagne flute followed by the Stout and then top with Champagne. You could give it a quick stir, but watch out--the Stout will foam up. Garnish with a sprinkle of the cocoa and sugar mixture.