Drink of the Week: Black Velvet


If you’re looking for something festive yet a bit off-the-beaten-track to sip on New Year’s Eve or to illustrate the dangers of Brexit in a single glass, then a combination of English stout and European sparkling white wine might be a good way to welcome 2020. If you’ve been looking for the real champagne of beers, this might be your drink.

Black Velvet

4 ounces champagne or similar sparkling white wine
2 ounces stout (Guinness is traditional)

These quantities/proportions can be adjusted both to taste and the size of the glass you’re using. Pour well-chilled stout and sparkling wine into a chilled champagne glass, wine glass, or Irish coffee mug. That’s pretty much the whole story.

I’m not sure it really matters which ingredient you pour first. However, it’s apparently possible to get what looks like a complete separation between the clear bubbly and the dark brew.  The post where I found this drink suggests you can use a bartender’s trick in which you pour a thick liquid — usually heavy cream — over the back of a bar spoon to make it float on the top. I’ve haven’t been able to pull it off with Irish coffee and it didn’t work any better for me with stout, not even milk stout


It’s easy to see why this drink is popular across the Atlantic with its combination of strong and light flavors, much like the better-known combo of stout and pale ale with the unfortunate name of Black and Tan (call it Half-and-Half if you’re in an authentic Irish bar) Combining stronger and lighter flavors is something people like in all kinds of drinks and I’m no different. Black Velvet boasts a lovely combination of slightly sweet, medium bitter, and festive fizzy wine flavors that go down easy but are never boring.

My beers were Guinness and Milk Stout Nitro from Left-Hand Brewing. My champagne was actually not champagne but two types of Rondel cava, the Spanish equivalent of champagne. I had great luck with all the combinations though my favorite was probably the Nitro with Rondel Gold as opposed to Rondel Brut. Some sources say that Italian prosecco can also work but, at least with the La Vostra I used, I wouldn’t recommend it. Ring in the 2020s with something less sweet but hope for a little bit more sweetness in the coming year. We could use lots more metaphorical sweetness in this world right now.


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