Food - Drink
Black Velvet: A Dreamy Cocktail That Mixes Hearty Stout And Crisp Champagne
BY CATHERINE RICKMAN
The black velvet cocktail is made by combining equal parts of French Champagne and Irish Guinness, both of which should be well-chilled beforehand. This simple yet elegant layered drink with striking visual appeal has a few possible origin stories, and may go all the way back to the Victorian era or even earlier.
Many claim that the black velvet was designed in 1861 as a homage to Queen Victoria and the black mourning clothes she wore after the death of her husband, Prince Albert, and she wore these black clothes for the rest of her life. However, the drink may date back even further to an 1830s German cocktail called the Menschenfreund.
What we do know is that the black velvet came about after the word "shandy" was popularized in the U.K., since the drink is also known as an "imperial shandy." Today, the method for making the drink is to pour the champagne in first, then pour the Guinness slowly over the back of a spoon into the glass for a pretty layered effect.
Cocktail author David A. Embury wrote of the black velvet, "The champagne cuts the heavy, syrupy consistency of the stout, and the stout takes the sharp, tart edge off the Champagne." Variations on the drink include using cider instead of Champagne (sometimes known as a snakebite) or using a stout like Murphy's Irish.