Perfect pairings? Shakespeare and the Globe, Bacall and Bogart, Kesey and acid, Jagger and Richards. We're happy to add to the list something concocted in 1861 at the venerable Brooks's, a Whig party hangout in London. Hailed widely as a morning-after recuperative, Black Velvet is a killer combo–champagne (the real stuff; no nasty New York State eau de urinal, thank you very much) and well-chilled stout. For those shuddering at the thought of adding anything to a $750 bottle of 1995 Krug, Clos de Mesnil, we gotta agree with you.
But your everyday restaurant or decadent-evening-at-home Moet & Chandon or Perrier-Jouet? Go for it. You're in for a tasty surprise.
You can ease into things by mixing a split of Taittinger Brut with a Yeti Imperial Stout at The Cellar in San Clemente–upscale and friendly, and enough fromage to bait every mousetrap in Southern California.
Patience is the key. To one-third of a champagne flute of luscious
Double Stout from San Diego's Green Flash brewery, we dribble in Veuve
Cliquot Brut. Holding the glass up to the window reveals a fascinating
work of art–delicate, dark veins working their way through the upper
layer. (Kesey would have been transfixed for hours.) A judicious sip
produces crisp, clean flavors of apricot and white peach. The second sip
has us raising the glass to the gentlemen at Brooks's–the creamy, dark
grab of the stout (toast/tar/caramel/coffee) and the fruity zing of the
champagne produce a smoky finish to savor. Mon dieu … so many
champagnes, so many stouts, so little time.