More Adventures in Barrel Aging

More Adventures in Barrel Aging

barrel aging

The Bijou being barrel aged and soon to be enjoyed.

 

I’m not sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into. It seemed an innocent enough project, but now I wonder if it is getting out of hand. Our first foray into barrel aging was a raging success, our Vieux Carre turned out beautifully and we were hooked. But D, who prefers the cannonball approach to dipping his toe in the water, now has three barrels on the go. I caught him trying to order a fourth last week and quickly nipped that in the bud.

You see, three barrels does not simply mean aging three cocktails. These barrels are designed to be used at least four or five times each. And while it takes a little longer to reach the desired level of oakiness with each successive aging, it only takes about two weeks for the initial endeavor. Furthermore these barrels cannot sit between batches, so we find ourselves constantly trying to decide what goes in next, tracking down ingredients, and bottling the fruits of our labors.

To date we have successfully aged the aforementioned Vieux Carre as well as a batch of Boulevardiers. barrel aging part 2-2Those casks have been replenished with a batch of Toronto cocktail and Red Hook, respectively. The cask designated for gin got a late start, due to leakage, but is currently in the process of maturing a liter of Bijou cocktail. I think that will be replaced by a personal favorite known as the Jutland Calling. But as the clock ticks down on each cask there is the constant question of what goes in next.

Don’t get me wrong, we are having a blast, but we are also generating far more product than we can reasonably consume. So far D seems unfazed by the volume of product or the cost of investment, but I suspect that we will be tapped out long before the wood on these casks stops infusing liquor with good old oak flavor.

Barrel Aging Cocktails

Booze Bottle and Barrels, a sight for thirsty eye

Vieux Carre

  • 1 ounce rye
  • 1 ounce cognac
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • .5 teaspoon Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The Boulevardier

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon (we used Bulleit)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso works fine but feel free to experiment)

Stir over ice in a mixing glass. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.

Toronto Cocktail

  • 2 ounces Canadian Whisky
  • .25 ounce Fernet Branca
  • .25 ounce gomme syrup or simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Red Hook

  • 2 ounces rye (Rittenhouse is best)
  • .5 ounce Punt e Mes
  • .5 ounce maraschino

Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.

Bijou

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.

Jutland Calling

  • 1.5 ounces London dry gin
  • .5 ounce Bornholmer Bitter liquer
  • .5 ounce St Germain elderflower liqueur

Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.

 

 

The Boulevardier

 

The Boulevardier

Boulevardier-4

This cocktail is already in D’s top 5. In fact, we already have a batch of barrel-aged Boulevardiers on hand. It is his go-to drink – he once taught a bartender at a hotel in Hawaii to make this libation (3 weeks of syrupy sweet tropical concoctions will leave you screaming for a classic bevvy.)

This drink is a perfect example of how tastes can change through trial and education. The Boulevardier is the cousin of the Negroni, a drink neither D nor I enjoyed on first sip. BoulevardierYet every six months or so I’d persist in ordering the Campari-heavy drink in the hopes that either it would be mixed with greater aplomb or that it would grow on me – and it did. D didn’t really come around to Campari until he fell in love with the Boulevardier. We are now sluts for bitter liqueurs.

 

While D regularly imbibes this brew, it had been ages since I had sipped on a Boulevardier. Somehow the cocktails of this world have been divided into two categories: D & K. Today I discovered that this is a crying shame – this is not a he versus me hobby! The Boulevardier is a smoky, warm, woody, leathery drink with a golden mahogany glow. It is bitter yet sweet and not bourbon dominant.

Our barrel-aged version, aged in a new 1-liter oak cask for two weeks, was smoother with less burn and a smokier, more woody finish. It was also less sweet that it’s un-aged counterpart. In appearance there was no difference between the two drinks, but the flavors of the aged version had married and were inextricable.

Both version are exceptional and should be consumed as often as possible.

The Boulevardier

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon (we used Bulleit)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso works fine but feel free to experiment)
  • Stir over ice in a mixing glass. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.
  • D sometimes drinks his Boulevardier in a rocks glass with a one-inch ice cube.
The Boulevardier Ingredients

The Boulevardier Ingredients