Seelbach

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Cocktail History

The Seelbach is a whiskey and sparkling wine cocktail that was created in the 1990s by Adam Seger as the signature drink of the famous Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

When working on the recipe, Seger’s hope was to craft a cocktail that could have been served by bartenders at the hotel when it opened pre-Prohibition, and he landed on this mash-up of a Manhattan and Champagne Cocktail. He also went so far as to dream up an elaborate story about how the drink was made that became cocktail lore: that it came to be when a hotel bartender used a Manhattan to catch the overflow from a newly open bottle of sparkling wine.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Bourbon: This is the base spirit. Seger recommends a Kentucky bourbon in homage to the hotel, but we went with Infinity Beverages Bock Beerskey, a local whiskey that is made using a Dopplebach beer mash rather than typical whiskey grains. It also features flavors of spice, toasted caramel, butterscotch toffee, and nut. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Spiritless Kentucky 74 in place of the bourbon.

Dry Sparkling Wine: This is the other base spirit. It’s poured on top at the end to make the drink boozier and add bubbly’s sparkling wine flavor and effervescence. We prefer Villa Bellezza Winery’s Brillante because it was our wedding wine and we love its light and airy taste. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Gruvi Non-Alcoholic Prosecco in place of the wine.

Triple Sec: This adds sweet citrus flavors that balance out the other dry ingredients. We used Cointreau because it’s one of the highest quality triple secs on the market. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Orange Sec in place of the triple sec.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters: This is a type of spirit infused with botanicals. They add more spice and complexity to the drink and tie the other flavors together. For a mocktail version of this drink, try All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the bitters.

Peychaud’s Creole Bitters: These add Peychaud’s unique Creole flavors, including licorice, saffron, citrus peel, vanilla, nuts, anise, cherry, nutmeg, clove, and caramel. For a mocktail version of this drink, try All The Bitter Non-Alcoholic New Orleans Peychaud’s Bitters in place of the bitters.

Orange Twist: This is the garnish. It adds a hint of citrus aroma.

Tasting Notes

The Seelbach features strong aromas of orange, a fascinating combination of dry champagne, citrus flavors, and whiskey initially that is accented by the bitters on the back of the palate, and the aftertaste of wine and the unique whiskey we used.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: Even with such a unique whiskey, we both enjoyed this drink. As far as sparkling wine cocktails go, the Seelbach makes for a lovely slow and contemplative sipper. 

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

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Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“I ended up liking this drink, but I must admit that the best word to describe it is ‘interesting.’ Infinity’s Bock Beerskey features a taste unlike any other whiskey because it is distilled from a Dopplebock beer mash rather than classic grains. Its unique flavor shows right through this bubbly cocktail and turns it into a one-of-a-kind drink that is fit for slow sipping.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐
“This cocktail is really unique. I never would’ve thought to mix classic stirred cocktail flavors with sparkling wine, but it works. I appreciated its complexity, but ultimately I wouldn’t make it again. I need a little more sweetness in my beverages to truly enjoy them.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Winter Drinks: 70 Essential Cold-Weather Cocktails by the editors of PUNCH.

Sale
Winter Drinks: 70 Essential Cold-Weather Cocktails
Winter Drinks: 70 Essential Cold-Weather Cocktails
Hardcover Book; Editors of PUNCH (Author); English (Publication Language); 160 Pages – 10/02/2018 (Publication Date) – Ten Speed Press (Publisher)
$12.99

AuthorWinter DrinksPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 1 oz Bourbon
 Dry Sparkling Wine
 ½ oz Triple Sec
 7 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 7 dashes Peychaud's Creole Bitters
 1 Orange Twist

Method
1

Add bourbon, triple sec, bitters, and ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Top with sparkling wine.

5

Garnish with orange twist.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 oz Bourbon
 Dry Sparkling Wine
 ½ oz Triple Sec
 7 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 7 dashes Peychaud's Creole Bitters
 1 Orange Twist

Directions

Method
1

Add bourbon, triple sec, bitters, and ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Top with sparkling wine.

5

Garnish with orange twist.

Seelbach

Make It a Mocktail: Use Spiritless Kentucky 74 in place of the bourbon, Gruvi Non-Alcoholic Prosecco in place of the wine, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Orange Sec in place of the triple sec, All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the bitters, and All The Bitter Non-Alcoholic New Orleans Peychaud’s Bitters in place of the bitters to try a booze-free version of this drink.

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Bourbon Cocktails

If you like this bourbon cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Weathered Axe Cocktail Recipe

Weathered Axe: A bourbon cocktail made with lemon juice, Combier L’Original Liqueur d’Orange, Cocchi Americano, ginger syrup, absinthe, and rosemary

Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

Paper Plane: A bourbon cocktail made with Aperol, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, lemon juice, and a lemon peel

Mountain Man Cocktail Recipe

Mountain Man: A bourbon cocktail made with lemon juice, peach liqueur, ginger syrup, maple syrup, and candied ginger

Vieux Carré Cocktail Recipe

Vieux Carré: A rye and brandy cocktail made with sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, Peychaud’s Creole bitters, Angostura aromatic bitters, and an orange peel

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