What Makes Champagne Champagne?

Photo by Marsden Epworth A lump of sugar and a dash of Angostura bitters turns champagne, or any sparkling wine, into a cocktail, and not one just for special occasions, either.

When I was 15, my grandmother, a forceful and eccentric woman who loved travel, took me to Paris, and in the soft evening of our first day, she walked me across La Place Vendôme and into the Ritz. She ordered us each a Champagne cocktail with the little lump of sugar dabbed in Angostura bitters driving a flurry of bubbles to the surface. 

This was a heady moment. Paris. The Ritz. Hemingway. Champagne. Adventure. A universe away from East 91st Street.

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