Whiskey And Bubbles Make Toast-Worthy Cocktails
December 26, 2022 –––––– Lauren Stone
It may be a surprise to some, but the bubbly fizz of champagne and the robust flavors of whiskey are a match made in heaven. While we’re accustomed to seeing champagne paired with vodka or gin, the mixture of celebratory bubbles and whiskey has long been a bartender favorite.
The storied Seelbach cocktail brought this idea into the limelight in the 1990s when Adam Seger, a bartender at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, claimed to have come across the recipe from an old hotel menu. According to modern legend, in the pre-Prohibition years, a clumsy bartender accidentally poured champagne into a Manhattan, and the combination became the Seelbach Hotel’s signature drink.
Never mind that Seger later admitted that he was the one who created the drink—and that he made up the story of its history. But by then the Seelbach cocktail had gained nationwide popularity—and for good reason. The balance of bitters, orange liquor, bubbles, and bourbon create the ultimate celebratory drink.
Below, bartenders share their favorite ways to marry whiskey and champagne for three festive cocktails to toast the holiday season. These drinks are worthy of popping the cork on an unopened bottle and just as well, are a perfect means of not letting any bubbly go to waste after the New Year’s Eve festivities are over.
Created by former bartender and executive bourbon steward Elle Hardiman at Whiskeys in Dallas
This festive drink is bright and citrusy. The dryness of the champagne combined with the sweeter, more mild flavors of Meyer lemons and limes creates a nice contrast, and the high-proof whiskey balances the herbal notes of the chartreuse.
- 2 oz. Early Times bourbon or Rittenhouse rye (or other high-proof whiskey)
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- ¼ oz. Meyer lemon juice
- ¼ oz. lime juice
- ¼ oz. Yellow chartreuse
- 1 ¼ oz. chilled champagne
- Lemon slice for garnish
Add all ingredients, except champagne, to a shaker with ice and shake to dilute. Double strain into a coupe glass. Pour chilled champagne on top. Garnish with a lemon slice. You can also batch this recipe for a party (all ingredients but the champagne, which you can add chilled directly to the glass).
Created by bartender at Armoury D.E. in Dallas Elizabeth Hooker
The Sparkling Gold is refreshing and decadent and only uses four ingredients. The celebratory drink is Hooker’s take on a Gold Rush, and she makes it using local Texas honey and Old Grand Dad. “The nuttiness of the bourbon goes great with the honey and lemon, plus it’s affordable and easily accessible,” Hooker says.
- 1 oz. Old Grand Dad bourbon
- ¾ oz. lemon juice
- ¾ oz. honey syrup (Equal parts honey and warm water. Stir to combine.)
- Top with 1 oz. chilled champagne
- Lemon twist for garnish (optional)
Shake all ingredients except for the champagne, strain into a flute glass, and top with champagne. If you’re feeling extra fancy, garnish with a lemon twist.
Created by Elle Hardiman
Reminiscent of sparkling apple cider, this cocktail will transport guests to New Year’s Eves past. The sweet apple brandy and apricot liquor are complemented by the gentle spice and honey flavors of Four Roses, and the bubbly dryness of the champagne brings it all together.
- ¾ oz Four Roses bourbon
- 1¼ oz. Lairds apple brandy
- ½ oz. apricot liqueur
- ½ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- 1 oz. chilled champagne
- Apple fan for garnish
Combine all ingredients except the champagne in a shaker with ice. Pour into a chilled Nick & Nora. Top with champagne, and garnish with an apple fan. For a little extra sweetness and flair, rim the glass with sugar.