The Black Velvet cocktail is a manly old fashioned drink; there's no doubt about that; the antithesis of sweet pina colada, or fruit-based cocktails with swizzle sticks and miniature umbrellas. It was invented at Brooks's Club, St James's Street, London, in 1861- to mourn the sudden death of Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria. In Germany, it's also known as the Bismarck, as the Iron Chancellor apparently quaffed it by the gallon; as he plotted the invasion of Austria, no doubt.
What is Black Velvet? It's a striking combination of champagne, and stout. But it's not just a simple matter of plonking the stout into the champagne and stirring it together. Oh no. You need to make sure that the two drinks remain separate, so that the different densities form one layer on top of the other.
I like to make mine in a glass jug. First, pour in your champagne (I had a bottle of Justerini & Brooks's 1999 anniversary champagne lying around), or a good sparkling white wine. Fill the jug up to the middle. Next, pour in your stout (I use Guinness Draught) very slowly over the back of a spoon. This will help the stout to settle gently on top of the champagne, and should, in theory, keep the two layers separate.
Serve in a chilled pint glass, or a champagne flute. I've also had it with ice- and that worked quite well.
What does it taste like? Some of you out there will probably loathe it. I happen to like it. It's a stimulating combination of the smooth and the bitter, with a lovely frothy head. So the next time you need refreshment at the gaming tables, call for a Black Velvet, and raise a glass or two to the memory of the Prince Consort.