Skeleton Key Cocktail Recipe

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For those who enjoy a generous splash of bitters to balance out their bourbon, the Skeleton Key cocktail is the key to your heart. Even with the delicious fall flavors of Elderflower liqueur and ginger beer, this refreshing cocktail is perfect for every season.

If you’d like more Halloween-themed cocktail ideas, try MK Library’s Fright Night in the Grove cocktail with the deadly combination of Jägermeister and tequila.

Skeleton key cocktail recipe

The original cocktail was created by Travis Fourmont, head bartender at Michael Symon’s Roast in Detroit, and modified to reduce the amount of bitters. The original calls for 8 dashes – so if you’re a fan, don’t be shy about adding some more.

“I served it for a couple of days before I came up with the name. The rusty color of the drink made me think of the skeleton keys that opened the old locks in my grandparent’s house.”

Ingredient Breakdown

Elderflower Liqueur – This is a fresh, fragrant and sometimes tropical-smelling liqueur that is made from the delicate white elderflower blossoms. One of the more popular brands of elderflower liqueur is St. Germain, which is made by soaking thousands of tiny hand-picked blossoms. This liqueur is often paired with champagne or in gin cocktails.

Ginger Beer – The best types of ginger beer in my opinion are the strong kinds with less sugar and real bits of ginger. The Fever-Tree brand makes a great natural ginger beer that is more natural than many other brands.

Angostura Bitters – A classic concentrated alcoholic mixture of herbs and spices used to flavor cocktails.

Skeleton Key Cocktail

Michael Kahn
For those truly sophisticated souls, this well-balanced bourbon cocktail featuring elderflower liqueur and ginger beer is the right way to kick off your frightful night.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 276 kcal



  • 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon
  • 1 ounce Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce Lemon Juice Freshly squeezed
  • 5 ounces Ginger Beer The strong kind with bits of ginger
  • 5 dashes Angostura Bitters


  • Fill a Tom Collins glass with ice.
  • Pour in the bourbon, elderflower, and lemon juice in that order.
  • Top with the ginger beer.
  • Add bitters on top.
  • Use your straw to gently stir, leaving the ingredients not fully mixed. Serve.


Serving: 1gCalories: 276kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 10mgSugar: 24gVitamin C: 5mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Bourbon, Elderflower liqueur, Ginger beer
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