Six easy champagne cocktails for Melbourne Cup Day

Bartender Fred Siggins.
Bartender Fred Siggins. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

It's that time of year again: the race that stops the nation, and the hangover that stops it the next day, too. So in between ironing your pocket square or finding the perfect jaunty angle for your fascinator, mix up a drink that's equally fun and fancy. Champagne cocktails have a long and proud history, from the battlefields of World War I to the dance halls of prohibition-era Cuba, and they're the perfect way to get tipsy with class. So take a punt on these six easy bubbly drinks to kick your Cup Day into first place.


Old Cuban cocktail. For champagne cocktails feature with recipes by Fred Siggins.

Old Cuban: champagne cocktail meets mojito. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Old Cuban

One of only a handful of truly classic cocktails to be invented in the modern era, the Old Cuban is a mash-up of the classic champagne cocktail and the mojito. This drink pays homage to the Prohibition era of the 1920s, when American socialites flocked to Cuba to party. Invented by Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in New York, this refreshing tipple is perfect for the rum lovers.

Recipe here

Great Gatsby: Classy cocktail the Seelbach.

Great Gatsby: Classy cocktail the Seelbach. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

The Seelbach

It might look terrible on paper and can be quite hard to balance, but when you get it just right the Seelbach is rich and complex, and perfect for the whisky drinker who wants to add a little sparkle to their dram. Originating at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, this drink was made famous in The Great Gatsby, as fictional characters Tom and Daisy Buchanan enjoy a Seelbach or two to celebrate their wedding.

Recipe here

This cocktail hits home: French 75.

This cocktail hits home: French 75. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

French 75

The story goes that this drink was invented by an American airman fighting alongside the French in World War I. Quite the playboy, he thought the local champagne he was guzzling didn't have quite enough kick to it, so he dosed it up with a splash of cognac. The resulting beverage was said to hit you like a shell from a French 75mm field gun. These days, it's usually made with gin for a lighter and fresher version that's still just as delicious – and dangerous.


Recipe here

Inca Mist cocktail. For champagne cocktails feature with recipes by Fred Siggins.

Great for a crowd: Inca Mist cocktail. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Inca Mist

This tropical number draws on the flavours of Peru, with pisco (an un-aged Peruvian brandy) and passionfruit. Hopped grapefruit bitters balances out the sweeter ingredients and makes this a super easy and fun drink to make for loads of people.

Recipe here

Long Odds cocktail. For champagne cocktails.

Fizzy Negroni: Long Odds cocktail. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Long Odds

A delicious Negroni variation topped with bubbles, this version incorporates elderflower liqueur for a springtime sweetness, white port for complexity and Campari for a refreshing, bittersweet kick. The Black Pearl in Melbourne serves a version that includes Irish whiskey.

Recipe here

Spring cocktail: The plum blossom cobbler.

Spring tipple: The plum blossom cobbler. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Plum Blossom Cobbler

Another easy-drinking concoction perfect for spring, this drink makes use of fresh cumquats and umeshu, a plum wine from Japan.

Recipe here

Champagne on Ice

Of course, if all this is a bit too much like hard work, you could just drink your champers the way Bill Murray does – in a pint glass full of ice. Despite the heresy of such a suggestion in the traditional world of champagne, the trend is catching on among younger drinkers in New York and London during the summer months. So much so, in fact, that Moet has released a new version specifically designed to be enjoyed on the rocks. Here in Australia, and especially on race day, we're generally tossing back inexpensive domestic sparkling rather than vintage French juice anyway, and let's be honest, when the sun's out at Flemington, a bit of ice in the bubbles is just the ticket.