While everyone around you is toasting the new year with a glass of champagne there is no reason not to sip on some bourbon instead if that is what you enjoy. But before you write off the bubbly completely may I suggest a classic cocktail that combines the best of both worlds?
The Seelbach Cocktail is named after the hotel in Louisville where it was first served in 1917. Legend has it that the drink was invited when the bartender used a customer’s Manhattan to capture the overflow from an exploding champagne bottle. Considering the similarities the Seelbach bears to other cocktails of the time, such as the French 75, it is safe to assume that this is likely apocryphal. The combination of champagne and bourbon in this cocktail makes it especially fitting for a Louisville drink, paying homage to the city’s French founders as well as it’s more uniquely American heritage.
The original recipe called for 14 dashes of bitters, seven of both Peychaud’s and Angostura, but for this recipe I have cut it down to just 3 dashes of each. Depending on your taste for bitters you may want to try it with even less. This is also a nice cocktail because you can tailor the sweetness by using either a sweet or very dry sparkling wine depending on your preference. I used Four Roses Yellow Label for the bourbon along with brut reserve sparkling wine and was very happy with the results.
The Seelbach Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau
3 dashes Peychaud’s aromatic bitters
3 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
Chilled sparkling wine
Orange peel to garnish
In a mixing glass stir the bourbon, Cointreau, and bitters vigorously with ice. Strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with orange peel and enjoy.