Guinness and Champagne: Two Great Tastes, Do They Taste Great Together?

So  in all honesty I feel the need to preface this entry with the stipulation that I am a purist when it comes to most things. I have a modern design sensibility that usually prefers to celebrate simple uncomplicated things and bask in their functional honesty. For instance, years ago when it seemed the city was full of  bars specialized in a myriad of martini concoctions from Appletini’s to Chochotini’s to ones that featured bacon, I could not be swayed from a classic dirty gin martini. Ok once in a while I would shake it up with vodka (pun intended), but you probably understand where I’m coming from.

For the sake of changing up the blog a bit, I decided to try something new this time. I’ve been reading lately about a fad in the mixology world of what’s being called Champagne Cocktails. Drinks combining Champagne or Sparkling Wine with the likes of Beer, Cognac or a number of liqueurs. This isn’t a new fad, it’s apparently been around for way over a hundred years.

For our taste today we decided upon a simple classic called The Black Velvet, it consists of equal parts of champagne (or in this case Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine) and Guinness stout. I poured half a glass of bubbly into a champagne flute and carefully dribbled in another have of Guinness over the back of a spoon. In a bout of research done post taste test, I learned that inverting the order of the pours makes for a more attractive drink with the dark stout settled at the bottom of the glass.

Steve Says:

The Black Velvet sounded like an odd combination off the bat and as it turns out, it certainly is. In my mind it clearly doesn’t live up to its hype. I find it too sweet and the Guinness imparts a huge toasty, yeasty heaviness that simply overpowers the drink. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised, after all Guinness is one of the heavier beers you can find. Also the in-your-face bitterness of the Guinness doesn’t appear to be softened at all by the sparkling wine. Unfortunately it’s almost undrinkable. I’m always up for trying anything once, but this will likely be my one and only experiment with the Black Velvet. That being said, perhaps with some tinkering of the recipe and the bubbly used you might find a more pleasing balance but it’s clearly not my style of drink in its current form.

On the bright side, I did enjoy finishing off the sparkling wine on its own. It shows a pleasing character. Of course it won’t stop you in your tracks, but with hints of tart green apple, a touch of sugar and slightly muted crispness it is certainly drinkable. It is unremarkable, but for  its price point of $10 when you need a quick inexpensive glass of bubbly it could certainly fill the bill.

The Black Velvet 1 star out of 5

The Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine 2.5 stars out of 5





Jane Says:

Steve came up with the idea of doing a Black and Tan but with champagne instead of a lighter beer. I was very skeptical. Like Steve, I’m not one to like fancy drinks. I think I’m the only one who orders black coffee at Starbucks. And Guinness mixed with champagne just sounded like a very odd combination. I was surprised to hear that it dated back to 1861 London when the prince consort Albert died. A bartender at Brooks’ Club supposedly mixed champagne with Guinness to signify mourning. Perhaps the British palates are more open to Guinness drinks?

I was happy to be adventurous and looked forward to trying the concoction, if only to say we tried it. Here were my impressions of the Black Velvet: First off, it’s a dark brown color – not the kind you’d expect in a champagne flute. Second, the aroma is a little strange – you smell the toasty, chocolatey Guinness but then you also smell the tang of the champagne. Third, the taste is bitter and effervescent, which is kind of an odd combination. Overall, I wasn’t a fan. But I’m glad I got to try it. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it?

The Black Velvet 0.5 out of 5 stars

The Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine 2.5 stars out of 5

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