If there is one bar that one should visit on a trip to Louisville, Ky., it is the iconic Seelbach Bar, tucked away off the majestic lobby of the Seelbach Hilton Hotel. Built in 1905, it inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to use it as the backdrop of Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding in The Great Gatsby. Now, after a recent $12 million renovation, the Old World charm of the hotel remains, yet has been updated with more modern technology installed in the rooms. Sadly, this also means there are television screens in the legendary bar, and you might suffer at some of the house bands that often play in there nightly.
But you will enjoy a fine cocktail at the long mahogany bar, replete with a monstrous back bar with close to 100 ryes and bourbons. Their eponymous cocktail — still unknown to many — was created in 1917 (by whom, no one knows) and is an elegant mix of bourbon, Cointreau, Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, and topped off with a whisper of champagne. There are sweet vanilla notes from the bourbon, subtle dry orange notes from the Cointreau, spice and anise from the duo of bitters, while the champagne brings dryness to the finish.
Combine the bourbon, Cointreaub and bitters in a glass over ice. Stir, then strain into a chilled flute or coupe glass. Top with a little champagne. Twist a lemon peel over the top if you desire.