In honour of Alister & Paine’s birthday, we’ve taken a page out of Tony Abou-Ganim’s latest book (literally) to toast our one year anniversary. Cheers!

An excerpt from The Modern Mixologist by Tony Abou-Ganim, currently featured on the Iron Chef America competition with Mario Batali, “Battle Mango”. Tony is best known for demonstrating the art of cocktail preparation on the Fine Living Network program “Raising the Bar: America’s Best Bar Chefs”.

The term “toast” may have come from the roman custom of placing a piece of burnt bread into a goblet of wine, to improve its flavor before the vessel would have been passed around and shared by all. Several sources indicate that one of the earliest recorded toasts took place during a great feast in 450 A.D., given by the British King Vortigen as he wished for the good heath and fortune of his guests.

Today, the champagne-based cocktail has become popular for celebrating important occasions, whether an intimate party for two or a gathering of grand proportions. Bubbly purists may cry sacrilege at the use of champagne in a cocktail, but there is no arguing with the numbers. According to Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller in their book, Champagne Cocktails, it is estimated that in France alone, one out of five bottles of champagne find their way into cocktails.

There is nothing sexier than a champagne cocktail. All the senses are invoked: the color, aroma, and flavor of citrus against cognac and champagne; the flow of tiny bubbles rising to the surface; the music of fine crystal flutes meeting one another. The Champagne Celebration is an elegant drink at the top it its class—a celebration in a glass!

I suggest serving the Champagne  Celebration as a really simple way to amplify the festiveness of your next soiree, be it for two or two hundred. Your toast, of course will depend on the occasion, but my favorite standby hearkens back to King Vortigen’s original…“to good health, good fortune, and infinite happiness!”

  • 1 white raw-sugar cube saturated with Peychaud’s bitters
  • ½ oz (15 ml) Rémy Martin VSOP cognac
  • ½ oz (15 ml) Cointreau
  • Chilled champagne

In a crystal champagne flute, place a bitters-saturated white raw-sugar cube. Next add cognac and Cointreau; slowly fill with ice-cold champagne. Garish with an orange spiral. (It is best to chill the Rémy Martin and then Cointreau by placing them in the refrigerator before use).

Check out more of Tony’s book, The Modern Mixologist.