Hello my fellow lovers of sugar, bitters, and everything in between.
So…..my last post was about how I had purchased a few items to play with at the “Lab”. Here I am now to report on how things turned out, as well as reveal what else I’ve been playing with lately.
I definitely want to get into what I’ve been doing with the Baby Barrels. The first thing you’re supposed to do when you get the barrels, is to prep them for aging whatever you want to put inside. Before and during shipment from the company, the staves of the barrels become dry from lack of moisture. The dryness creates gaps between the staves and is obviously not conducive for holding any sort of liquid. In order to prep the barrels (as well as clear out any loose charred bits), they must be filled with water continuously to swell the wood to create a tight seal. This process takes anywhere from one to three days, depending on how dry the wood staves are.
Once the barrels were ready, I decided to follow what Jeffrey Morganthaler had done, and try my hand at a barrel aged negroni. I only aged it for one-week, because on the seventh day, I found that the barrel was beginning to leak a bit. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the process. Sometimes (actually, quite a bit), I get excited and carried away with the fun, and forget to document what I’m doing. The small barrel holds just over one liter of liquid, so what I did was measure out equal parts (about 340ml, if I remember correctly) of Gordon’s gin, Campari, and one of my favorite vermouths, Carpano Antica.
I was surprised at how smooth the result was after only one week. When compared side-by-side with a “fresh-made” negroni, the barrel-aged version definitely has a sweet caramel nose and a rich lingering finish. Because of the small size of the barrel, the liquid inside gets more surface area contact than that of a larger barrel. Think of a small barrel as a way to “speed-up” the process of aging that normally takes months or even years.
In the larger 5-liter barrel, I decided to try aging some gin. I have never heard or read of this being done, and I simply wanted to experiment to see what the result would be. I only let it sit for a week, as I still wanted to have the faint qualities of oak mixed with the strength of the gin.
The resulting product is quite interesting, it smells and tastes exactly as you would imagine it to, lightly oaked gin. The aging had cut a bit of the acidity in the taste, and the aroma has a light woody-nut smell. I decided that one of the best applications of this new product would be in a Martinez cocktail. The Martinez is argued as being the predecessor to both the Martini as well as the Manhattan. Professor Jerry Thomas first wrote about it in his 1887 book, How to mix drinks: or The Bon Vivant’s companion
How about I show you my version?
What you will need:
1.5 oz. gin (I like using Gordon’s, its a great product to mix with)
1.5 oz. sweet vermouth (I like using Noilly Prat for this recipe)
1/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur (I prefer Luxardo Maraschino, well, because it’s the best)
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 regular lemon for garnish
1-2 measuring jiggers (1/4 oz.-1/2 oz. and a 3/4 oz.-1.5oz. are the two I like)
1 cocktail martini glass
1 pint glass with metal tin to create a boston shaker
1 hawthorne strainer (the one with the spring)
Peeler or knife
For this cocktail, I started with 1.5 ounces of the barrel-aged gin.
Next I added the 1.5 ounces of sweet vermouth.
Next, I added the two bar spoons of Maraschino liqueur.
After the maraschino has been added, I left the bar spoon in, since Im going to stir the cocktail to mix it up.
The last ingredient is a few healthy dashes of Angostura bitters.
Add a scoop of ice and we’re ready to stir!
Use the infamous julep strainer that fits perfectly into a mixing glass and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Take the lemon and remove a bit of peel for garnish.
Express the lemon to release the oils over the glass to add the citrus aroma.
Next, roll the peel up to create a little spiral, I rub this all along the edge of the glass and the underside of the glass as well. The citrus oils stick to the glass and when a guest picks it up, the oils stick to their hand and hopefully make their way across their face, adding another element of citrus. Everybody likes citrus, it makes you feel happy and elated.
Place the lemon twist into the cocktail, and present it on a napkin while saying “cheers!”
I like the oaked-gin in this cocktail because it creates a nice complexity next to the sweetness of the vermouth and the maraschino. This is a great classic cocktail that is meant to be enjoyed slowly. The general rule is that it should take you twice as long to drink it as it took you to make it.
Next up: barrel-aged cocktails version 2.0, don’t worry, I promise you wont have to wait so long in between posts!