Served over ice, with a delicate strawberry-infused champagne simple, this Champagne Bourbon Cooler is my solution to making a brunch cocktail a week-day staple. Rather than wait for Saturday or Sunday to enjoy a champagne-topped cocktail, go ahead, I give you permission. Make one today.
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Sometimes a cocktail comes about because of a particular ingredient, and this is one of those cocktails. I had made a strawberry-infused champagne simple syrup and wanted to use it in a summer drink. Now, on its own the simple has the slight sourness of champagne, plus the sweet and tart flavor of the strawberries infused for 2 days in the syrup.
To make the syrup, I took flat champagne, added an equal weight of sugar and put 1 cup of chopped strawberries in it. I let it sit in the fridge for 2 days, until I could smell the strawberries in the syrup when I took off the lid. A simple strain and the syrup was ready.
But when I put it in my lemonade-bourbon base, I lost a lot of the champagne taste, and the addition of the simple syrup with the lemonade made the cocktail too sweet. A dry champagne float at the top rescued the cocktail, and made it a perfect whiskey cocktail for champagne and wine lovers.
I did add a new bitters I just acquired – BD Bittering’s Strawberry Sassafras bitters – and they did cut back on the sweetness. However, the extra tang of the champagne balanced out the cocktail as a whole.
Is it bourbon-forward? With just 1.5 oz of bourbon in it, the answer is no. However, you can still taste the bourbon, and I’ve always loved a bourbon-champagne combination, so it was a win-win situation for me.
If you want to increase the bourbon to 2 oz or use a high-proof bourbon, you’d get much more of the finish as you drink it. However, because you have a champagne top, be aware of the total ABV of the cocktail.
A couple of beautiful fresh basil leaves and strawberry slices dress up the drink nicely. I went a little extra and made a strawberry rose – not my cleanest – but you get the idea.
If you’re a strawberry fiend, check out Riding with the Top Down – Strawberry Pineapple Tiki or this Strawberry Rhubarb Smash. And, if you’re a champagne girl, head to this Rhubarb Aperol Spritz or this Strawberry Gin Bubbles cocktail.
Champagne Bourbon Cooler
- 1.5 oz rye or bourbon
- 3 oz lemonade
- ¾ oz strawberry infused champagne simple**
- 16 drops strawberry sassafras bitters
- 1/2 barspoon hibiscus simple for color (optional)
- 2 oz or to top dry champagne
- Garnish: basil and strawberries
- Combine bourbon, lemonade, simple, bitters, and hibiscus syrup (if using) in a mixing glass. Add ice and shake briefly. Strain into a rocks glass and top with dry champagne. Add basil leaves and a strawberry rose or slices for garnish.
- 1 cup flat champagne
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup chopped strawberries