At the turn of the 20th century a pair of Bavarian brothers, the Seelbachs, opened a posh hotel in downtown Louisville catering to upper-crust travelers. Its lavish interior evoked the Old World and attracted characters—like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Al Capone—who knew they could always get a stiff drink at the Seelbach Bar, even throughout Prohibition. The grand, saloon-style counter specialized in bourbon and, as Brad Thomas Parsons writes in his book, Bitters, its signature cocktail was apparently created when a bartender used a Manhattan to catch the overflow from an uncorked Champagne bottle. Or so the story went. The Seelbach’s narrative has since been proven to be nothing more than a fabrication by the hotel’s bartender, Adam Segar, in the 1990s.
Though the ingredients don’t quite reflect the architecture of a Manhattan the liberal addition of Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters do counter the bourbon’s sweetness with a Manhattan-esque bite.