December has arrived in Washington and with it, falling temperatures and the Christmas season. Although decorations appear earlier and earlier each year, Black Friday truly signals the holiday’s arrival. Following the Thanksgiving weekend, several publications spent the week discussing a multitude of non-traditional holiday beverages. And by non-traditional, I mean everything but eggnog.
The New York Times in particular produced an impressive interactive feature entitled “For Every Holiday Party, the Right Drink.” While many of the feature’s dozen seasonal beverage recipes required extremely specialized and obscure ingredients – green Chartreuse, allspice liqueur, Cynar, and dried horehound, to name a few – one required only two, easy to find components: Guinness and champagne. Combined in equal proportions they make a Black Velvet, a winter drink perfectly suited for both holiday parties and cold, snowy afternoons at home.
Considered by some drink experts to be “the most elegant and delicious of beer drinks,” the Black Velvet combines two flavors – bitter and sweet – that complement one another. As if by some Christmas miracle, the heavy, bitter beer envelops the light, sweet champagne to produce a drink both sweet and savory. When poured, the drink’s pillowy head sits carefully atop the dark black stout, whose color clearly inspired the drink’s name.
Black Velvet’s simplicity allows and encourages variety; any stout can be paired with any champagne, according to taste, loyalty, or simple convenience. The same goes for choice of glass: I prefer a champagne coupe, the wide, shallow, and less feminine alternative to the traditional flute. The coupe is a touch more masculine yet no less appropriate or festive.
Before winter sets in and brings those snowy weekend afternoons, try the gift of Guinness at your next holiday party. You will have, after borrowing some of that ubiquitous champagne, a simply delicious drink while conveying individuality, festivity, and sophistication.