Black Velvet (beer cocktail)

Black Velvet (beer cocktail)

The Black Velvet is a beer cocktail made from stout beer (often Guinness) and white, sparkling wine, traditionally champagne.

The drink was first created by the bartender of the Brooks's Club of London in 1861, to mourn the passing of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's Prince Consort . It is supposed to symbolise the black or purple cloth armbands worn by mourners.


A Black Velvet is made by filling a vessel, traditionally a tall champagne flute, halfway with chilled stout beer and floating the sparkling wine on top of the stout.

The effect is best achieved by pouring over a spoon turned upside down over the top of the glass so that the liquid runs gently down the sides rather than splashing into the lower layer and mixing with it.

The differing densities of the liquids cause them to remain largely in separate layers (as in a pousse-café).

Similar drinks

  • When cider or perry is used in place of the more expensive champagne, it is known as a "Poor Man's Black Velvet". The recipe differs in that the stout is floated on top, since cider and perry have a different density than champagne.
  • In Germany, a version of this mixed beer drink made with Köstriker (a dark lager) and served in a beer stein or beer mug is called a "Bismarck". According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the "Iron Chancellor" supposedly drank it by the gallon.
  • A similar effect is achieved by the "Black and Tan", which is a mixture of a dark and a light-colored beer, though the more similar specific gravities allow for less distinct layers.


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