One of the cool things about cocktails is how one drink can provoke many different reactions (and some fun conversations). And this week’s feature, the Seelbach Cocktail is a very good example. Created at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville Kentucky in 1917, the Seelbach cocktail combines bourbon, Cointreau, liberal doses of Angostura and Peychauds bitters all topped with dry champagne. The drink is sweet from the bourbon and Cointreau, with pronounced spice from the bitters but has a dry, light finish from the champagne. The Seelbach is a balanced, tasty, classic drink that is often seen on better cocktail menus. This is a cocktail we will continue to make, and enjoy, regularly.
But beyond simply tasting good, what makes the Seelbach so interesting is the varied reactions to the flavors. Both Carolyn and I lean towards lighter gin, rum and tequila cocktails. When we tasted the Seelbach’s sweet bourbon, orange and spice we immediately thought “great for winter holidays”. But our friends who enjoy Manhattans and Old Fashioneds like the Seelbach as a “lighter”, almost summery, drink. If you are a fan of whiskey-based cocktails, the Seelbach certainly succeeds in keeping the flavor profile of whiskey, but also adding new dimensions and a cleaner finish. Having such broad, but varied, appeal is pretty nice trick for such a simple drink.
Making the Seelbach is easy, but there are differences between recipes on the proportion of bitters. The original recipe calls for up to 7 dashes each of Angostura and Peychauds bitters, while other recipes (like Ted Haigh’s) call for 2-3 dashes each of the bitters. We went with the full seven dashes and like the pronounced spice flavor, but the bitters will show even with 2-3 dashes. These are fun experiments, so feel free to play around. Besides, you can use this as an excuse to make another round. Continue reading