GSN Update: The Barrel Aged Cocktail Project 1.2

one liter black barrelIt’s been almost seven weeks since I laid a batch of Negronis and Manhattans to rest in Deep South oak barrels.  The target of 58 days is soon approaching.  Tasting each one now, here are my thought on how they are progressing.

Manhattan: The wood has lent a smokiness to the flavor that is quite intriguing.  This is almost ready for use.  I think a few more weeks will smooth out the few remaining rough edges.  Next time, I think I’ll try using a higher end vermouth and see what happens. (see my previous post about what brands I used).

Negroni: I am amazed at how smooth it has become.  Really almost buttery in mouthfeel.  The flavor is excellent and the balance of sweet, dry and herbal has become a cohesive whole.  I might pull this from the barrel in the next week and use it as is.

Overall, it is clear that barrel aging affects the overall character of each cocktail in a positive way.  I’m already thinking of future cocktails that will benefit from this process.


GSN Update: The Barrel Aged Cocktail Project 1.1

phpThumb.phpOne month ago today, I began my first experiment in aging cocktails with two one-liter oak casks sent to me by Deep South Barrels.  I’ve not done much with them since, other than rotating them once a week, and admiring their look on my bar.  But, today, I pulled samples from each and gauged how they are coming along.

The first is a Negroni using Aviation Gin, Campari, and Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth. The other is a Manhattan using Rittenhouse Rye, Cinzano Sweet Vermouth, and Angostura bitters.

The Manhattan shows definite signs of wood aging, especially in conjunction with the rye.  It’s quite spicy, but balanced by an almost fruity sweetness in the vermouth.  It’s coming along, but not quite there yet.  I’ll check back in a few weeks.

The Negroni is quite smooth and amazingly balanced considering there’s no dilution.  The Campari has been tempered by the oak, and the gin has a lovely creaminess.  I could drink this now, but I know that it will just continue to get better.

Overall, I am happy with the results and will continue to keep you updated with my progress.


GSN Review: Deep South Oak Barrels

one liter black barrel

The barrel-aged cocktail is here to stay.  Originally conceived by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the movement has taken off in the last few years to the point where most major cities worldwide have bars offering their own versions of aged Negronis, Manhattans, Martinis and Tridents.

Years ago, I myself tried aging plain old vodka with the hopes of making it into a beautifully balanced whiskey with disappointing results.  Recently, Deep South Barrels out of Pearland, Texas approached me with an intriguing offer.  They would send me two 1 liter barrels in exchange for a series on my efforts to barrel age a few cocktails.  Sounded like a plan to me!

The barrels arrived a few days ago and they look stately sitting on the review desk.  One is banded in traditional black steel, and the other is a brushed silver steel version.  I’m going to try making a Negroni (one of my fav cocktails) in one, and a Manhattan (my go-to drink when trying a new bar) in the other.  I’ll be updating you on the process as things go along.

In the meantime, here is some more info on Deep South Barrels

GSN 2013 Cocktail & Spirit Trend Predictions

predIn no particular order, here are my predictions for the world of Cocktails and Spirits for 2013.

  • Barrel-aging will continue unabated.  As with beer being aged in ex-bourbon casks, certain spirits will be aged in ex-beer casks to pick up some of the hop character.
  • More cocktail and food pairing dinners will take place, as bar/restaurants realize the potential of cross-pollination of foodie/cocktail enthusiasts.
  • The organic, locally sourced, fresh ingredient movement will continue to gain momentum, particularly in the world of edible cocktail garnishes.
  • Independent distilleries/breweries will continue to explode in growth.  Wineries will have to seek new ways to engage oenophiles.
  • Beers that are spiced, aged or have a fruit characteristic will be utilized in low-alcohol cocktails.  Of particular note are wheat beers and Belgian ales.
  • The tap and bottled cocktail movement will end suddenly.  However, carbonated cocktails and those that use custom mixers (bespoke tonics, sodas, etc…) will begin to make their presence known for a few years.
  • Molecular mixology will be seen as a passing fad.  The average consumer wants something that looks like a cocktail and not like a science experiment.
  • New regions of world cuisine will be the basis for a movement in the cocktail world; in particular Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.  Be on the lookout for cooking spices, fruits and vegetables that add an ethnic air to cocktails.