Black Velvet

Difford's Guide
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Serve in a

Flute glass

Garnish:

None (unless drinking to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in which case consider a shamrock or mint leaf)

How to make:

Slowly POUR ingredients into chilled glass and gently stir.

2 1/2 fl oz Stout beer
2 1/2 fl oz Brut Champagne
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Read about cocktail measures and measuring.

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Difford’s Guide to Cocktails Fifteenth Edition

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AKA:

Bismarck; Black Velvet; Imperial Shandy; Champagne Velvet

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Review:

Full-bodied stout and delicate dry sparkling wine are an unlikely combination but this classic has stood the test of time. Some may wish to add a barspoon of sugar syrup.

Variant:

If porter is used instead of stout, this drink becomes simply a Velvet. If beer is used, it is known as the Halstead Street Velvet.

History:

This black sombre cocktail is said to have originated at London's Brook's Club (or others say, Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, Ireland) in 1861, immediately after the death of HRH Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, of typhoid fever on 14th December. Devastated, the Queen wore black for the rest of her life so this drink's shrouding of sparkling wine with black stout is most appropriate.

However, its origins may date back to an 1830s German cocktail called "Menschenfreund" (meaning philanthropist). And perhaps not coincidently, Prince Albert was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1819.

This cocktail first appears in a cocktail tome, named "Champagne Velvet", in Harry Johnson's 1888 New And Improved Bartender's Manual, written in both English and German.

It was enjoyed by the exuberant Otto von Bismarck, the German Chancellor, so much so that this cocktail is also known as a "Bismarck". It is under this name that it appears in Frank Newman's 104 French-language Recettes des Boissons Anglaises et Americaines.

It is not until Frank-Meier's 1936 The Artistry of Mixing Drinks that the name "Black Velvet" tops the recipe, and even then, German-born Meier lists this as a "BISMARCK or BLACK VELVET" with a recipe that calls for a "split bottle of Guinness" – a "split" was the name for small 187.5ml bottle.

CHAMPAGNE VELVET.
(Use a large sized goblet.
Forth this drink a bottle of Champagne and a bottle of Irish Porter must be opened. It is mixed as follows:
Fill the glass ½ full with {Porter, the balance with Champagne;
Stir up with a spoon slowly, and you have what is called Champagne Velvet, because it will make you feel within a short time as fine as silk.
It is rather an expensive drink, but a good one.

Harry Johnson, 1888

Bismark
Glass No. 2
Take glass No. 2, fill it half stout, half champagne.
Note. – This consumption, very pleasant to the taste, was a favourite of students in the Latin Quarter in 1896.

Frank Newman, 1904(translated from French)

BISMARCK or BLACK VELVET
Into large tumbler with a piece of Ice, pour slowly a split bottle of Guinness's Stout add an equal amount of Champagne; stir gently and serve.

Frank Meier, 1936

In his 1948 Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, David A. Embury writes of this drink, "I was first introduced to Black Velvet at the home of a very dear friend of mine in Montreal and I received one of the greatest of all the drinking surprises of my whole life. The combination of champagne and stout sounds terrifying - something like molasses and horseradish. Actually, it's excellent. The champagne cuts the heavy, syrupy consistency of the stout, and the stout takes the sharp, tart edge off the champagne. Each is the perfect complement of the other. Be sure, however, that you use (a) a good bottle of stout, (b) an extra-dry champagne - preferably a brut or nature."

Nutrition:

There are approximately 304 calories in one serving of Black Velvet.

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Difford’s Guide to Cocktails Fifteenth Edition image

Difford’s Guide to Cocktails Fifteenth Edition

Copies available: As of 29/Oct/21 we have just 31 copies of the 15th Edition left. However, our Sixteenth Edition is now available.

Buy it here
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