Brew Year’s Eve


1 oz bourbon <Woodford Reserve>
1/2 oz Cointreau
7 or so dashes Angostura bitters
7 or so dashes Peychauds bitters
4-5 oz (chilled) Biere de Champagne <Enlightenment Brut>

Build in a champagne flute in the order given. Optional lemon twist for garnish

Champagne is to New Year’s Eve as turkey is to Thanksgiving.  A longstanding tradition that is actually sort of boring on its own.  A great way to mix things up this NYE is to use that champagne (or sparkling wine) as a component in more interesting drinks.  You still get the thrill of poppin’ a bottle on New Year’s, but you’ll also get a bit more enjoyment out of its contents.

There plenty of recipes for cocktails with bubbles.  The Mimosa is a classic brunch staple, and a French 75 probably better suits the revelry of a NYE party.  However, since I have a penchant for the brown side of the liquor cabinet, my go to midnight toast is the Seelbach.  It combines bourbon, Cointreau, and a ton of two different bitters to add some real complexity to the generally staid champagne.

After celebrating a few New Year’s Eves with this drink, it still left me wanting a bit more.  Most likely a symptom of using a delicate champagne as a key player.  Luckily, I happened upon a local brewery, Enlightenment Ales, who had just started releasing a biere de champagne.  This style of beer uses a strong golden ale as the base and then conditions it in the traditional method used for champagnes.  The result is all the flavors of a solid Belgian beer combined with the effervescence and dry finish of champagnes.  One taste and I knew immediately what to do with it, and so the Seelbeer was born.

Using a biere de champagne in place of traditional champagne (or prosecco or any sparkling wine) adds some wonderful malty flavors to this cocktail.  These notes even bring out the bourbon a bit more.  The hints of fruit from Belgian yeast helps to highlight the Cointreau.  Meanwhile, the bitters add the much needed bite to everything (and it’s always fun to add bitters to a drink with reckless abandon).  Ango and Peychauds are the traditional bitters of choice, but this is a great place to experiment with any other ones you have in your home bar.

If you plan on making either the Seelbach or Seelbeer to ring in the New Year, I’d recommend getting everything prepared slightly before midnight.  While it’s a simple cocktail built right in the glass, it’s still more involved than just popping a cork and filling some glasses.  You could even combine everything but the beer/sparkling wine before hand in each glass, and then as the ball is dropping top off the glasses and you are all ready to belt out some Auld Lang Syne.

Happy New Year!


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