Frozen Angel

22nd March 2017


Champagne…Brandy… Curacao…Maraschino…and – ice cream! Where on the cocktailing earth can we be? Deep within Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, that’s where! The recipe in question is the oddly named Soyer-au-Champagne. No ice used at all. A sort of cross between a Champagne cup and an ice cream soda.

Well, yum yum! Obviously a Summer classic, a dessert cocktail classic. A classic to go around the world. Actually no. It may be in the book, but it didn’t even make it onto the Savoy’s cocktail menus.

The reason is, this is one the great Harry somehow got wrong. In its original form it just doesn’t work. The ice cream kills the Champagne – mousse, smell, taste and all.

If a little light now goes on in your head to the effect that the great man misread his notes and ‘Soyer’ should read sorbet – forget it! That doesn’t work either.

How the ‘Soyer’ came about no one can say. As a name for a mixed drink it can be traced back to Paris in the 1890s (there’s an even older American ‘Soyer Punch’ too). Apart from the name not doing the drink any favours appeal-wise, any sort of link with celebrity chef Alexis Soyer (1810-58) is unlikely. Famously the head chef of London’s Reform Club and inventor of a famine soup for the Irish and a field stove for the British Army, there is no documentation to support his having anything special to do with ice cream or Champagne.

This author’s guess is that ‘Soyer’ is a garbling of ‘soyeux’ [silky].

Go with the freeze
The only thing you can do with mixes that you want to work but don’t, is to change them!

In this case the trick consists of replacing the ice cream with an ingredient neither Soyer A. nor Craddock H. had available to them: frozen yogurt. Preferably the soft-serve type.

At once all the apparently insuperable problems disappear. You get the mousse, taste and nose of the bubbly and a drink which is light but not lightweight. Frothy, silky, as sweet as you want it to be, but in any case with a faint ‘sharpened’ creaminess from the yogurt. Not least, as a cocktail it is truly classic because the tastes and smells of every ingredient comes through.

But this raises the question of the choice of bubbly. A point I have made before is that if you are seeking real authenticity in classic Champagne Cocktails you should seriously consider demi sec not brut Champagne. But in this case, because abundant sweetness is laid on by the other ingredients, I think you should go the other way: to zero dosage. In fact in creating this recipe I used Ayala Zero Brut.

If you want variation the best way isn’t to change the yogurt but the Brandy and liqueurs. A non-fruity aux de vie instead of Brandy opens up a whole range of possibilities and always deploy two liqueurs, not one or three. You will taste them both.

Finally the name. I call it Frozen Angel because I created it at a frozen yogurt bar at the Angel, London a few Summers ago.


50-60 ml/ 2 oz frozen yogurt*
½ Teaspoon Brandy, Rum, or a non-fruity eau de vie.
½ Teaspoon Curacao
½ Teaspoon Maraschino
Champagne to fill

Mix, adding (last) just enough Champagne to make the mixture pourable. Pour into flute glass/Champagne saucer and stir lightly. Garnish with orange wheel or pineapple wedge.

* Vanilla or green tea flavours work best.

Bernard Barbuk

After a career as a business journalist, he wrote on drinks subjects for almost every extant drinks publication. He now divides his time between refining his database of 2,000-plus classic recipes & finishing a book on ‘the 18 Families of the classic cocktail’.