Using the barrel is very important in making cocktails. This allows you to get some of the wood characteristics such as caramel, vanillin, and oak tannins. One of the most popular containers used in aging whiskies is none other than the Red Head Oak Barrels. You can use a 1 to 20 liter barrel and store the liquor at room temperature for a month or more depending on your taste preference and the size of the oak barrel. You can do the taste-testing afterwards before adding at least another week to further enhance the flavor of the drink. This produces a silkier mouthfeel for the product, which is a lot better than the fresh cocktails.
This popular method of barrel aged cocktails is well-received by a lot of mixologists. However, there are several factors that can affect the taste of the drink that should be properly considered. Some of these factors include the size of the barrel, the previous content of the container, and as well as the type of oak used. The new American white oak (like the barrels sold here on our website) provides a very aggressive woodiness to the flavor of the drink. Cocktails typically age faster when placed in smaller barrels. Aside from this, the bourbon barrels also provide a different flavor compared to the Sherry barrels. This is also true when it comes to using the new charred barrels.
The Effects of the Oak Barrel
The number of times the barrel has been used in aging cocktails can also affect the end product. According to an article written by Tristan Stephenson and posted in Class Magazine, there are three main or principle reactions that take place when the cocktail is placed inside the barrel:
• Infusion – The drink can extract some of the flavors in the wood, particularly vanillin.
• Oxidation – The cocktail will also undergo an oxidation process that produces the nutty flavors of the final product.
• Extraction – The acidity of the cocktail is greatly affects by the type of wood used. This produces sugars that provide the drink softness to its taste.
Stephenson also considers wood as a type of flavor layering. This means that the purpose of the wood is not just to produce barrel aged cocktail, but is also considered as a natural ingredient to the drink. However, using wood can also lead to problems. Too much extraction can also alter the flavor of the cocktail. Once the oak barrel has already been used before, it can cause the extraction of too much vanillin flavor, which can already over empower the other natural flavor of the wood. Because of this, Stephenson tried removing the cocktail from the barrel sooner. However, this will also prevent nuttiness, which is achieved from long and slow oxidation process.
Another challenge involved in barrel aging blended cocktails is the space required in the barrel. The space inside the barrel will also greatly affect the outcome of the cocktails. Aside from this, barrel treatment is also very important to consider. If the treatment is handled poorly, the barrel can dry out fast and can lead to cracks. This is why curing the barrels with hot water is advisable to prevent these things from happening.
Another barrel aging expert named Philip Duff collaborated with the Excellia tequila and the G’Vine Gin de France at Manhattan Cocktail Classic in order to age the Hanky Panky and White Lady cocktails according to his preferences. He was able to compare the cocktail aged in a cognac barrel from a cocktail that is aged in a new charred oak barrel. The White Lady commonly adds G’Vine Floraison, Fresh lemon juice, Cointreau, and egg whites to the drink, but when it is converted into a barrel-aged version, Duff replaced the LActart for citrus juice in order to prevent spillage. The egg whites are then added while serving. Despite the great outcome of the aged-version, most of the audience still prefers the fresh White Lady. Nevertheless, most people would prefer the Hanky Panky to be aged since the results produces a very smooth texture on the palate and the ingredients are also properly meshed well together.
A lot of cities nowadays already have their barrel aged cocktails. In fact, Grant Achatz’s Aviary already features a number of barrel aged cocktails in the menu. This was also positively received by the customers. In the Columbia Room, Mr. Derek Brown includes maple syrup to the cocktail, which enhances the woodiness of the drink without the need of aging the entire thing. At the Seattle Liberty Bar, barrel aged cocktails are usually made upon request. The Woodinville whiskey is also the type of drink commonly used. Meanwhile, at the New York’s Fatty Crab, both tequila and gin are used in the cocktail. Aside from this, there are also some people who do repeats such as Clyde Common and Matt Piacentini of The Beagle who brought back the barrel-aged Manhattan. In Toronto, Canada, a mixologists named Jenn Agg creates barrel-aged Manhattans at the Black Hoof. These days, the Negronis and the Manhattans are some of the common themes being used.
There are also some mixologists that test different types of cocktails. In Austin, Texas, the place called The Tigress owned by Laura Nixon, three barrel aged cocktails are being served. One of the latest among these three is none other than the Blackthorn (Kirschwasser, gin, Dubbonnet Rouge mixture). Other mixologists also use their own techniques in order to produce great results. The Worship Street Whistling Shop produces an irradiated cocktail that combines chip pan bitters, Dubbonet, Campari, Diplomatico rum, grenadine, and absinthe. The use of radiation can break down the harsh elements of the cocktail. On the other hand, Alex Kratena of the Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel in London makes use of a less sci-fi procedure in making the Artesian Vieux Carre. This particular cocktail combines the Rittenhouse rye, Remy Martin, bitters, Benedictine, and Antic Formula. However, instead of storing in an oak barrel, he stores the drink inside a liter glass bottle for two weeks with a little bit of American oak that is separated into two to reveal the liquid to an uncharred and charred wood.
However, for Bar Director named Brian Bartels of Fedora, the Fedora cocktail is placed inside a Tuthilltown spirits barrel for at least three months. This type of cocktail is based from The Ideal Bartended by Mr. Tom Bullock during the early 1900s. This is a combinations of brandy, bourbon, rum, and the orange curacao. Nevertheless, Bartels upgraded the recipe by using the Smith and Cross rum, apple brandy, Elijah Craig bourbon, and Combier instead of the orange curacao. In order to test whether he could improve the cocktails complexity, Bartels took the three month old Fedora from the oak barrel and stored them in small mason jars with the addition of smoked wood chips. He also plays with his drink by adding simple syrup that is made with smoked water. This helps him add a third layer of flavor. At the Chicago’s The Whistler, Mr. Paul McGee includes oak spirals into a bottle of the Martinez cocktail. This is made with sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, Old Tom gin, and the Maraschino liqueur to prevent impregnating the barrel with flavors of the spirit. McGee also makes use of the oak spirals from Barrel Mill.
So what are you waiting for? Go get your favorite barrel and try making your own cocktail recipes.