The Black Velvet Cocktail was created in 1861 London at the Brooks Club after the death of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. The country was in mourning and they decided that the champagne should be in mourning as well and so dark Guinness stout was added. In Germany the cocktail is also known as a Bismark, but the recipe is the same – a stout beer poured with a dry champagne. A variation that uses a dry hard cider instead of champagne is called a Poor Man’s Black Velvet.
Today the Black Velvet has become more of a novelty cocktail enjoyed during celebrations and, because it’s decidedly Irish, on St. Patrick’s Day as a way to toast the occasion in an extra special way. It’s great as a showy party starter, or as an alternative brunch cocktail to the traditional mimosa. Allowing the drink to settle for a minute or two after pouring allows the Guinness and champagne to separately due to their different specific gravities creating an attractive layered look, but many mixologists prefer to mix the two together.
Whether the beer and champagne are blended or layered is truly a matter of taste, as is the cocktail itself not surprisingly. Some hard core Guinness fans may find the addition of champagne to their beloved stout a sacrilege, but others find the cocktail to be a heavenly mixture and enjoy how the champagne brings out a surprising fruity side of the beer. Personally, we have to admit we prefer our champagne and Guinness to be in separate glasses altogether, but we do love the look and appreciate the history of the cocktail which is why we truly enjoyed photographing it. Scroll down below for the recipe and photoshoot notes and also check out our animated Instagram video of this cocktail! Be sure to follow our Instagram feed for more behind the scenes posts.
Drink Photography Notes: Lighting provided by 1 strobe with a grid, placed at a 2 o’clock position at about five foot elevation, to create dramatic detail. Using strobe lights also allows us to capture the beautiful bubble details as the drink is poured. A reflector card was added at a 9 o’clock position. The camera system is a Leica S Medium Format with a 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S lens.
Drink & Prop Styling Notes: Real Guinness and champagne were used to keep the subject matter authentic, as most of our photoshoots tend to be. The story boarded concept was to have the cocktail poured and captured in various stages, with the final shot being an overflowing glass. Several takes were done before the final photo session, to ensure that the cocktail would overflow over the side of the glass that we wanted, which can be a be a tricky accomplishment requiring patience, experience and pouring finesse.
Click on the video below to see the pouring in action!
- Guinness Stout Beer
- Fill a champagne flute or highball glass halfway with Guinness.
- Top off with champagne.