“A beautiful medley of rich flavors, married with bitter and sweet orange and tickled by the kiss of bubbles.” With such descriptive power, it’s no wonder Abou-Ganim’s recipes and cocktails have been among the most lasting in Bellagio’s history. At Steve Wynn’s invitation, the “Modern Mixologist” came to Las Vegas in 1998, touching off the Vegas’ cocktail renaissance, and making modern classics of his Bellagio Cocktail, Cable Car and the Champagne Celebration.
A perennial staple on the Bellagio holiday cocktail menu for a number of years, the Champagne Celebration has its roots in the classic Champagne Cocktail, which appeared in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 bartender’s guide as the marriage of a sugar cube, bitters, Champagne and lemon peel. Always the picture of genteel style, Abou-Ganim ups the ante with a bit of cognac and Cointreau.
“There is nothing sexier than a champagne cocktail,” he writes in his first book, The Modern Mixologist (Agate Surrey, $35). “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.” Abou-Ganim would heartily recommend this “celebration in a glass” as ideal for parties of two to 200, but especially “a beautiful woman in an elegant evening gown, a gentleman in a tuxedo, and me, sitting on the roof of Veer watching the fireworks! Happy New Year!”
- 1 white raw-sugar cube
- 2 dashes Peychaud bitters
- ½ ounce Cointreau, chilled
- ½ ounce Hennessy VSOP Cognac, chilled
- 4 ounces chilled brut Champagne (Abou-Ganim suggests Moët & Chandon White Star)
- Orange spiral garnish
Drop the sugar cube into a chilled champagne flute and douse with two dashes of bitters. Add the Cointreau and cognac, then slowly fill with the Champagne. Garnish with a spiral of orange peel.