Like the Champagne Cocktail I tried to like the Seelbach. In fact, I’m finishing my last one as I type this. While I won’t say that the drink is bad (it certainly isn’t) I also won’t say it’s great. The combination of bitters in the quantity called for makes for a drink with a very muddied bitters flavor. You lose the distinctness of each of the bitters and you’re left with a combination that while not bad or overpowering lacks crispness. But, while we’re on the topic of bitters, I’ll say they are absolutely necessary, and strangely the amount called for isn’t overwhelming. I’d say go with 5-7 dashes of each based on your preference and don’t simply wash the glass as you may see suggested.
The orange flavor of the triple sec does shine through nicely and I would definitely suggest you use whatever triple sec you mix with most. Cointreau, while fantastic, simply gets lost in this drink. I used the Hiram Walker triple sec that I discussed a while back and found the results to be very good.
Let’s talk bourbon for a second. As with most cocktails, I went with a rye heavy bourbon, Bulleit in this case, because that’s what I generally prefer. In truth I think you could use any bourbon you like and still have good results. Though, like the triple sec, you’re using a comparatively small amount so don’t waste your top shelf stuff. That said don’t use rot gut either. Don’t want to destroy an otherwise good cocktail.
Finally let’s talk champagne. If I can be perfectly honest were you mixing this drink for me I’d prefer you simply give me a nice full glass of champagne and we can call it good. I love me some good champagne. Okay, I like even non-good champagne, but I digress. To shake things up a bit (pun intended) I tried Mazzer’s suggestion and dropped the champagne to 1 oz for one of my drinks and found the bitters to be much too strong. If you’re going to go this route, which amounts to basically an Old Fashioned with triple sec for sweetener, I’d say try two dashes of each bitters and you should be solid. All told, I still prefer the drink with champagne. In fact, I like more champagne that Gary Regan suggests. Now, granted, this could and certainly probably is a result of my love of champagne, but we’ll ignore that for a moment.
So, in quick summary, the Seelbach Cocktail is good, but not amazing. I’d drink it without complaint, but I’d take a simple glass of champagne first. My preferred recipe is from Vintage Cocktail and Spirits. Sip and enjoy my friends.
Seelbach Cocktail (Vintage Cocktails and Spirits)
1 oz Bourbon 1/2 oz Triple Sec 7 Dashes Angostura Bitters 7 Dashes Peychaud's Bitters 5 oz Champagne
1) Build in the order given in a champagne flute 2) Garnish with an orange twist