Skeleton Key: A Bloody Cocktail with Corner Creek Bourbon

Skeleton Key Cocktail - Halloween Party Drinks
A bourbon and ginger beer highball, it is the bloody mess of bitters that makes the Skeleton Key a really great Halloween cocktail. Photo Courtesy: © Travis Fourmont
  • 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 serving
Ratings (4)

Are you ready for a fun, spicy, and rather interesting cocktail? This Skeleton Key is easy to mix up and it's perfect for any Halloween party. The recipe comes from Travis Fourmont, head bartender at Michael Symon's Roast in Detroit.

There are many appealing aspects to this unique drink. It begins with a fine Kentucky bourbon from Corner Creek and St. Germain, our favorite elderflower liqueur. The spiciness begins with ginger beer, and it is the healthy dose of Angostura Bitters that brings this cocktail into the spooktacular realm.

Fourmont designed his Skeleton Key with four times the average bitters portion and the blood red liquid floats on top of the drink in an eerie fashion.

There are two ways to drink this one. To get the full flavor of the bitters, sip it without a straw. However, that is probably going to be too bold for the majority of tastes, so a straw is recommended. You still get the bitters, it is simply diluted into the rest of the drink. Give the bitters top a taste, though. It's fun and Halloween is for the strange and extraordinary, so why not?

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Build the bourbon, liqueur, and lemon juice in a collins glass filled with ice.
  2. Top it off with ginger beer.
  3. Garnish with about 8 dashes of Angostura Bitters.
  4. Serve with a straw.

(Recipe from Travis Fourmont, winner of the October 2012 Halloween Cocktail Contest)

How Strong is the Skeleton Key?

It's always difficult to gauge the alcohol content of soda topped mixed drinks because you may pour more ginger beer than I would.

Yet, the average collins glass will take about a 6-ounce drink plus ice, so that would leave the Skeleton Key at around 21% ABV (42 proof).

About Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon Whiskey

Corner Creek is not one of the big names in the bourbon business so it might not ring a bell. If you love to seek out obscure and lesser-known whiskies, it is one that you will want on your radar.

Produced at Corner Creek Distillery, this bourbon hails from Bardstown, Kentucky, the bourbon-capital of the world and home to the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival. This area is known for producing the best bourbons, so when you see a small craft distillery from Bardstown, you can expect it to be a good thing.

Corner Creek is distilled from a mashbill of wheat, corn, and rye and it is bottled at 88 proof (44% ABV). While it is a full-flavored whiskey, it does not have the harshness found in many whiskies of this strength. This also makes it an ideal candidate for cocktails because it will not get lost in the mix. If you enjoy a softer whiskey profile that retains the signature flavor of bourbon, Corner Creek is a nice option.

The Corner Creek bottle is also distinct in the world of whiskey. You'll be able to recognize it instantly because it's tall and sleek - almost like a Champagne bottle - rather than the typical squat bottle of bourbon. 

As is the case with many smaller spirit companies, Corner Creek does not have the widest distribution. Yet, this one is available in most states in the U.S., which is a nice surprise.

Keep an eye out for it and even ask for it at your local liquor store (they like to get new suggestions).