This is an old drink. Traditionally a 50-50 mix of stout (Guinness, almost invariably) and Champagne, it’s reported to have been created to honor the passing of England’s Prince Albert in 1861. “So it’s got that Old World feel,” Mr. Calvert said. “And we wanted something beer-based, which, in Brooklyn, seemed appropriate.” James veers from the standard recipe, however, by melding the Champagne with a Belgian ale, Leffe Brune, rather than a stout.
It’s a pleasing variation, with the ale’s malty sweetness — its flavor evoking the scorched top of a crème brûlée — bringing a new, lighter dimension to the old pub standard.
If James’s Black Velvet is any indication, beer and Champagne can coexist just fine. Especially, perhaps, in Brooklyn.
For reasons some readers will know, I'm a fan of sparkling wine as well as beer, and generally approve of champagne cocktails. I'll have to give this particular combination a try...