Even in this era of Golden Age drinking—fueled by a surfeit of better-than-ever craft beer, revived obscure spirits, and new New World wines—there’s nothing quite as festive as Champagne for life’s little victories, including, of course, surviving one year and welcoming a fresh one. And there’s nothing quite as sophisticated as a Champagne-topped cocktail for the occasion.
One of the earliest, aptly named the Champagne Cocktail and made with sugar, Angostura bitters, and a maraschino cherry, first appeared in Jerry Thomas's 1862 Bon Vivant's Companion. Later versions included the addition of brandy, and bartenders have been riffing on the formula ever since. In addition to the Champagne Cocktail, there's a whole wide world of sparkling wine cocktails that capitalize on a range of ingredients, like the French aperitif Suze or a homemade hibiscus-infused vodka, and all sorts of sparkling wines, from workaday prosecco to a fancy-pants blanc de blanc.
Here are four sparkling drinks that have caught our attention, cocktails that go well beyond the classics.