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A Different Drink From Kentucky

The Seelbach Cocktail. It tastes better with a lemon or orange peel garnish. 

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The cocktail most people associate with Kentucky is undoubtedly the Mint Julep, consumed in large quantities around the country on the day of the Kentucky Derby. The drink we’ll discuss today, however, is the Seelbach. Like the Julep we know and love, the the Seelbach starts with a base of the native spirit of Kentucky, bourbon, but adds a celebratory splash of sparkling wine.

The Seelbach was invented just before Prohibition at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe was lost for many years but later unearthed and once again made at the hotel. I was there earlier this week and had the drink in the delightfully classy, old-world bar. Delicious.

For this drink, use a robustly flavored bourbon with a higher-than-40-percent alcohol content, such as Baker’s. The natural sweetness in the bourbon, combined with the sugar in the Cointreau and champagne, is balanced by the big dose of bitters that also give the drink depth.

1 fl. oz. Bourbon
.5 fl. oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
7 dashes Angostura Bitters
7 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Champagne, about 3 fl. oz.

Add first four ingredients to a glass with ice. Stir and strain into a champagne flute or coupe. (You can also “build” this cocktail directly in the flute without ice, but I like it colder.) Top with champagne. Garnish with a lemon or orange peel in the glass. 



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