Posted by: Matt Hamlin | April 15, 2010

Clyde Common’s Barrel-Aged Cocktails

Last month I wrote about visiting Clyde Common in Portland, OR and enjoying a fantastic cocktail – a barrel-aged Negroni. Jeffrey Morgenthaler has a detailed post up about how his bar is using used bourbon barrels to age different all-spirits cocktails.

We procured a small number of used whiskey casks from theTuthilltown distillery and proceeded to fill them with a large batch of Negronis; and that’s when the magic of barrel aged cocktails grabbed our attention. After six weeks in the bourbon barrel, our Negroni emerged a rare beauty. The sweet vermouth so slightly oxidized, the color paler and rosier than the original, the mid-palate softly mingled with whiskey, the finish long and lingering with oak tannins. We knew we were on to something unique and immediately made plans to take the cask aging program to the next level.

Negronis are now prepared in five-gallon batches and poured into multiple bourbon barrels. Robert Hess’ ubiquitousTrident cocktail is currently resting inside single-malt barrels. The El Presidente (à la Matt Robold), Deshlers,Remember the Maines, they’re all receiving the oaked treatment in a little storage room in the basement of the restaurant that I refer to as my “office”.

It’s a truly awesome cocktail effort. What’s best is that, well, these are all my kind of cocktails: spirits, bitters, and nothing else.

I’m really tempted to get a small Tuthilltown Spirits used bourbon barrel for my own experimentation. The challenge will be that, well, it’s hard to drink three gallons of Negronis at home. Perhaps I can use this as a feature for a cocktail party this summer. But I better plan ahead, as the aging takes time, as does the prep for the barrel. But the results are so, so delicious…

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Responses

  1. I heartily recommend getting a barrel.

    I have a 3 gallon at home that isn’t aging cocktails, but aging a blend of rums – a hobby I picked up after winning a 3L barrel in a raffle.

    Now I have my 3L barrel and my 3 gallon barrel both aging at the same time.

    Jeff’s experiments make me want to try the same thing at home, though largely just because it’s a really long drive to make it to Clyde Common from SoCal.

    • Well that is a strong endorsement. And the idea of blending rums sounds like another great thing I will want to do, but never really get around to…

      And by the way, El Presidente sounds delicious. I might try it tonight when I get home. Have you done an aged version?

  2. [...] final cocktail was my own barrel-aged Negroni, based on Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s method from Clyde Commons. I served this garnished with a flamed orange peel. The challenge was making [...]

  3. Hi

    I’m just about to start out on a barrel aged cocktail project in Birmingham, UK. Our city is not the biggest cocktail area but I want to help push the trends and expose the city to new things.

    I have got some funding from Maxxium to get some barrels but I can only find virgin American oak which has previously not held anything, will this not help during the aging process ??

    I am going to do my Chartreuse National final cocktail from last years comp which is Chartreuse, Cognac, Cherry Heering, choc bitters, lux maraschino sans the lemon juice which will be added after aging and poured into a Islay washed glass

    Also I need to do a Bourbon drink as I have the funding from makers Mark but are a bit confused on aging an old fashioned which essentially is pure bourbon which has already been aged, to age even further ?? any suggestions please folks ??

    Oh yeah I am also doing an Negroni which is my fav drink !!

    • I would think that using virgin oak barrels, you’ll get a cleaner oak taste. Has the wood been treated or burned at all? Or is it just pure wood?

      I’m not sure that barrel aging an Old Fashioned would make sense. Well, I’m sure it would add something to the drink, I just don’t know that it would necessarily be dramatically different. Manhattans, Old Pals, Negronis, those sorts of drinks seem better suited for it. But people are trying lots of different thinks now and I’m sure if you went further afield, you’d come up with something interesting.

      Best of luck!


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