Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Perfect For New Year's Eve: The Seelbach.

The Seelbach in Louisville is a wonderful, old hotel in the grand style of the late 19th and early 20th century, made immortal as the site of Daisy's wedding in The Great Gatsby. No doubt it is perfect for New Year's Eve, although you pretty much need to be in Louisville for that to be an option.

No, I'm talking about the Seelbach Cocktail. Why is it perfect for New Year's Eve? Because it is the only cocktail that comes to mind that combines bourbon with champagne. What's more, as unlikely as it sounds, it is delicious.

The cocktail was created by a Seelbach bartender in 1917. Its recipe was lost during Prohibition and only reappeared in 1995. It's other ingredients are unusual too, not one but two historic bitters.

Although the recipe doesn't specify a bourbon, I have had it at the Old Seelbach Bar made with Blanton's bourbon, which is quite nice. I suggest any of the better bourbons but don't use one that is more than 12-years-old, as too much wood throws it off.

Since it is served in a champagne flute, no one needs to know that you are celebrating with a far superior drink to champagne alone.

Seelbach Cocktail


3/4 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau
7 dashes Angostura bitters
7 dashes Peychaud's bitters
4 ounces chilled brut Champagne
1 orange twist, for garnish


Pour all of the ingredients, in the order given, into a Champagne flute. Add the garnish.


Sylvan said...

There is also the Kentucky Champagne Cocktail, which is a regular Champagne cocktail (bitters soaked sugar cube in your glass of bubbles) plus a shot of bourbon. It works, but it's not as tasty as a Seelbach. A little quick googling also shows a drink with the same name using 1/2 oz of peach liqueur instead of the sugar cube.

sku said...

This sounds great. Can't wait to try it! I never get that excited about New Year's Eve champagne, but champagne with bourbon, that's a different story.

AaronWF said...

My worst hangovers come from champagne cocktails. I'm tempted to assemble these ingredients, but wary of the bourbon and champagne bickering once in my stomach. They seem to get along somewhat better when introduced separately.

dbk said...

I'm drinking this right now, as my NYE drink. It's fantastic. Thanks for posting the recipe, Chuck!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Chuck,

Happy New Year! Thank you for the recommendation. Have you tried, and would you recommend using a wheated bourbon or rye whiskey, instead of a rye bourbon in this cocktail?

Chuck Cowdery said...

The recipe anticipates a standard rye-recipe bourbon like Blanton's or Eagle Rare. I think a straight rye, like Wild Turkey or Rittenhouse, would be good, but I haven't tried it. A wheated bourbon, such as Maker's Mark, probably would not be so good. To me, wheaters tend to disappear in cocktails.