One of the easiest and fanciest cheats for dressing up a bourbon cocktail is topping it with champagne or sparkling wines and this Raspberry Bourbon Bubbles recipe for New Year’s Eve fits the bill. The easiest way to do this for two is to make your favorite old fashioned cocktail, pour a half serving in each flute, and top with champagne. The champagne dries out the cocktail, adds some effervescence, and opens up fruity flavors in the whiskey.
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Why Champagne and Bourbon?
The classic champagne bourbon cocktail has to be the Seelbach cocktail, named after the historic hotel in Louisville. It’s a combination of bourbon, orange liqueur, heavy-handed bitters, and a champagne float. But I love the taste of champagne and bourbon together without a lot of bitters.
Champagne, sparkling wines, and bourbon rely on yeast for their flavors, and both can burst with fruit, floral, and citrus flavors. The tickling mouthfeel of the bubbles changes the bourbon in the same way that a classic highball is transformed with the addition of soda or seltzer.
While the easiest bourbon champagne cocktail is simply a sugar cube in the bottom of a flute dashed with bitters and topped with bourbon, then champagne, I love to take classic, spirit-forward cocktails and top them with bubbly. It works magically with both old fashioneds and Manhattans, and you’ll love it with a sazerac or boulevardier.
How to Make Raspberry Syrup for this Bourbon Bubbles Cocktail
For this cocktail, with the raspberry old fashioned base, I wanted to use a raspberry syrup that was processed cold, not heated. I wanted the sweet and slightly tart taste of fresh raspberries, not the taste of raspberry preserves.
To make the syrup, I added 1 pint of fresh raspberries to a ziploc bag with 1 cup of sugar and about ¼ cup of water. I muddled them a bit, then set them in the fridge for a day or two.
The sugar pulls out the juices from the fruit, and it’s an amazing syrup for cocktails. Perfect for whiskey, but even better if you’re a gin or vodka fan and want that bright taste of fresh raspberries.
Flavors in the Raspberry Bourbon Bubbles Cocktail
In addition to the bourbon and raspberry flavors, I added a dash of The Bitter Truth chocolate bitters. I’m partial to the taste of the raspberry and chocolate together. But, using black walnut bitters, orange bitters, or even peach bitters would be an amazing substitute. Use what you have, this cocktail is very forgiving.
To select a whiskey, I chose a low-proof whiskey, under 90 proof, to make sure I didn’t overwhelm the more delicate flavors of the champagne and raspberry. It was the right decision.
When I make cocktails to be topped with champagne I don’t generally use overproof or high-proof bourbons. While that does make the bourbon more noticeable in the cocktail, it throws off the balance because of the heat of the proof with the other, lower-proof ingredients.
Cheat Your Way to a Fancy Bourbon Cocktail
If you don’t like raspberry or chocolate, simply make your favorite old fashioned and pour half of it into a champagne flute. Then top with champagne or sparkling wine. This works equally well with Manhattans and cocktails like the Sazerac. Both have enough individual strength that they don’t get lost with the champagne topper added at the end.
Next time you have an accomplishment or anniversary to celebrate, make your favorite bourbon cocktail, pour it into two champagne flutes, and top with sparkling wine. You’ll still get your lovely kick of bourbon, but you’ll have a fancy, more elegant sip for those special occasions.
This is also very easy to create for a party or tasting. Simply make a batch of your old fashioneds or Manhattans and portion out 1 ¾ oz – 2 oz to each flute before topping with champagne.
Other Fun Drinks You Might Like
Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces usually come from the Cocktail Kingdom section of Amazon:
You may already have these bar essentials, but just in case:
Raspberry Bourbon and Bubbles
- 2 oz bourbon
- ½ oz raspberry syrup
- 2 dashes chocolate bitters
- Top with prosecco, Champagne or your favorite bubbles champagne or your favorite bubbles
- Garnish: fresh or dried raspberries or a simple cocktail cherry in the bottom of the flute
- In a mixing glass, add bourbon, syrup, bitters and fill with ice.
- Stir until well-chilled, about 30 seconds.
- Strain into two Champagne flutes, top with bubbles and garnish with raspberry or a nice cocktail cherry.