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…