It took me a long time to get into bourbon.
A bad experience that combined my lack of experience drinking anything more than a beer or two, and working in a restaurant and thus suddenly having many bartender friends whose after-work drink of choice was Jameson shots, meant that for years, even the smell of whisky was enough to turn my stomach.
Luckily, I powered through. I enjoy bourbon enough now to drink it straight, but that doesn't mean I don't also love it in a cocktail. Since the theme of this month's Mixology Monday is "Cocktail Chronicles", which host Cocktail Virgin defines as "what is timeless (or potentially timeless) and elegant in its simplicity", I thought a play on a classic Seelbach would be perfect. (Also, it's my first time participating in Mixology Monday. Hi everyone!)
The drink originated at the Seelbach Hotel in 1917, where it was supposedly the result of using the remains of a Manhattan to catch the overflow from an uncorked champagne bottle. Whether or not that's true, the drink perfectly exemplifies the age (and the theme! See how well that works?): elegant and simple, bubbly and spicy all at once, it feels like it would be equally at home in the hand of a Fitzgerald character or a hipster. As requested, it's timeless.
A traditional Seelbach is made with Cointreau, but I wanted to see how the fruity, floral taste of St. Germain would work in the drink. Unsurprisingly, it was lovely. (Is there anything St. Germain doesn't go with?) The sweetness helps to balance out the spiciness from the bourbon and bitters, and the effervescence from the champagne makes the whole thing light and much too easy to drink.
If you think you don't like bourbon, this is a good recipe to start out with. And if you do like bourbon, get drinking! Timeless or not, it's delicious, and isn't that what counts?
Edit: Here's a roundup of what everyone else did!
St. Germain Seelbach
- 1 ounce bourbon
- 1/2 ounce St. Germain
- 7 dashes Angostura bitters
- 7 dashes Peychaud's bitters
- Sparkling wine
- Lemon knot for garnish
Make your garnish first—you don't want your drink sitting around getting flat while you try to tie a lemon peel in a knot. Using a vegetable peeler, cut a long piece of lemon peel, getting as little of the pith as possible. Trim the sides of your peel to make a long, thin strip, and gently tie it in a knot.
Stir bourbon, St. Germain, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice until chilled. (I added the bitters straight into the flute for the video, but it's a much messier process.) Strain into a champagne flute, and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon knot.