While the rest of the world sips Champagne this coming Saturday the whiskey lover stands his or her ground and says, “nope, not me, not gonna drink it,” and goes on sipping an Old-fashioned. I completely understand. When you are a dark spirit drinker it’s hard to make the switch to anything else, even if it is New Year’s Eve and there’s nothing more festive than a Champagne Cocktail. So what’s the solution for the whiskey lovers in your life as the countdown to midnight begins? To find the answer I consulted the experts at Woodford Reserve, one of Kentucky’s oldest and distilleries in the heart of Bourbon Country, via their Woodford Reserve Culinary Cocktail Tour: A Journey With Bourbon. This beautiful book just happens to be the official cookbook of the Kentucky Derby. As it turns out there is a version of the Champagne Cocktail that replaces the brandy with bourbon and the sugar cube with a vanilla simple syrup. There are no bitters in this drink and the garnish is a half of a vanilla bean. The vanilla has the effect of accentuating the smoothness of the bourbon, as well as adding a bit of sweetness. The Champagne, of course, adds the bubbles and the elegance. The end result has enough of a bourbon flavor to satisfy the whiskey lovers, while still maintaining enough of a festive feel to remind them that it’s New Year’s Eve. Definitely serve this cocktail to your whiskey fans or, if you’re doing the Champagne Cocktail party idea from my last post, include a bottle of bourbon and some vanilla simple syrup on the buffet!
The Bourbon and Champagne Cocktail
1 oz Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon (or a similar smooth bourbon like Buffalo Trace)
½ oz vanilla simple syrup*
4 oz Champagne
½ vanilla bean for garnishing
Mix the bourbon and syrup in a Champagne flute and then top with chilled Champagne. Garnish with the half vanilla bean. Enjoy!
*Vanilla Simple Syrup
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise into halves and place in a Mason jar. Pour the hot syrup over the vanilla beans and let stand for 8 to 10 hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.