The first and last time I “threw together” a Champagne tower, it was precisely the show stopping extravagance I set myself up for.
I started the endeavor, by myself, at 11:50 PM on New Year's Eve, after an unspecified number of hours drinking and too many people watching me. It was flashy in every way I didn’t plan for: There was Champagne lost (in the stove, on the floor, in the plants), coupes rolling on the carpet, dreams shattered—though probably just mine. I seem to be the only one who refuses to believe that Champagne towers (a.k.a pyramids, fountains) aren’t meant to be DIYed off a cruise ship, after the 1920s. This is the only thing I want for New Year's—is that so much to ask for?
Turns out, if you plan your party tricks, that answer is no. You can make your own Champagne tower at home, and it can be everything you dreamed of. Here’s how:
1. Do some light math.
The last thing you want, besides what happened to me to happen to you, is not having enough glasses for the towering structure you are envisioning. Each level of the tower is a square, so add up the number of glasses you need for each level, then account for a few extras. We did a 4 by 4 tower, so (4x4) + (3x3) + (2x2) + (1x1) = 30.
2. Pick your glasses wisely.
No one besides a hotel has more than
30 6 glass coupes. And I’m not one for investing in party tricks or picking up glass shards, so go plastic. Choose a glass with a stem that doesn’t hold more than 6 ounces: Plastic coupes and mini martini glasses will work. The stem is important for the flow of the bubbles, and a bigger glass on top will topple before bubbles can even reach the second row. I’m sad to say a plastic shot glass tower does not work, but I tried for you, I did.
3. Get enough plasticware and bubbly.
You will need more of everything than you think you need. Get more plastic glasses because some will break. Get more Champagne because some will overflow. (And if you’re tempted to make a Negroni tower, make it a Negroni Sbagliato tower. The bubbles are really important here.) You can figure a 750-milliliter Champagne bottle has 25 ounces of liquid, so use that and go from there. We used 2 bottles-worth (plus a little of a 3rd) for a 4 x 4 tower of 2-ounce mini martini glasses. Do the numbers before you open the Champagne.
4. Gather other equipment.
You’ll need a baking sheet to place the tower on, so your dog doesn’t think the Champagne puddle on the floor is his new water bowl. A half sheet will fit a 4 x 4 tower; you’ll need something bigger if you’re going bigger. You’ll also need some clear tape and whatever accessories you want to decorate your stunner. We added pomegranate arils to our glasses and some ribbon and spray-painted branches around the tower. We’re “fancy.”
Pick the spot where you want your tower to live and place the baking sheet there. The tower will not move after it’s built, or rather, you shouldn’t try. Place your first level: Make sure every glass is touching its neighboring glass; you should see very symmetrical diamonds of negative space between each glass. Tape down the first row to the baking sheet.
Now get onto the second level. Place a glass in the center of those negative space diamonds so that the glasses are again touching. The most important part to a successful tower is that every glass is touching its neighboring glass. Without that, your bubbles don’t have a path to travel down. If glasses shift during building, gently nudge them back into place. A steady hand is helpful here.
Continue until you have just one diamond and one glass to place there. You did it! The hard part is behind you.
6. Gather friends, pop bottles.
Pour from the top in a steady stream that’s not too forceful. You don’t want this tower toppling. The bubbling will help the liquid move down the tower; watch in awe. Continue until all the cups are filled. If they’re not all entirely full, top them off individually. You did an excellent job. You deserve a few dozen glasses of Champagne.