Skeleton Key Cocktail Recipe | Passionate about wine

A master key is a device that has been filed to unlock multiple doors. It is so called because it has been reduced to its essential parts. Kind of like the Skeleton Cocktail, as it’s also been stripped of anything that might seem too difficult or anything unnecessary embellishment.

If you’re from Detroit, you might already be very familiar with the Skeleton Key, as it’s one of Motor City’s contributions to cocktail culture.

“In Michigan, it’s a very well-known cocktail,” says Travis Fourmont, who in 2011 was the bar manager of Roast, a now-closed Michael Symon steakhouse. It was there in 2011, says Fourmont, that bartender Brian Volmer created the cocktail at his request. Intended for a room Halloween Cocktail competition (which it won), the drink has become a staple on local bar menus.

Fourmont is now the owner of Bar Pigalle in Detroit, which not only offers the classic version of the skeleton key on its fall menu, but also a alcohol-free.

Stripped down to the basic elements of spirit, citrus, bitter and sweet, the boilerplate is ready to haunt your Halloween gatherings. Delicate elderflower liqueur (Fourmont uses Saint Germain) brings a subtle tropical floral note and a certain sweetness. ginger beer and Bourbon contribute to the warm autumn spice flavors, while the generous amount of finishing Angostura bitters, which float in the resulting orange haze of the drink, are oddly appropriate.


1 ¼ ounce bourbon

¾ ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur

½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 to 5 ounces of Fever Tree ginger beer

6 to 8 (or 10, go crazy) dashes Angostura bitters

How to Make a Skeleton Key Cocktail

Pour the bourbon into a Collins glass filled with ice, then add the elderflower and lemon juice. Garnish with ginger beer. Give a few swirls with a cocktail spoon to mix the ingredients, but not completely. Generously add 6-8 dashes of Angostura bitters on top and let them float.

Posted on October 26, 2022