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Where to buy a small (used) barrel?

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Just came back from a trip to the States. Had quite a lot of craft cocktails (something that I really miss here, a place that can do a decent cocktail with top spirits) and one of the bigger trends was aged cocktails. Like a barrel-aged negroni or barrel-aged manhattan.

Now, where would one start to find a barrel? Also I would probably want the smallest size possible.

But also for the sake of discussion: how much flavour would this really impart? And would I have to wait for years? Is it simply a way to elevate cheaper alcohol? So alternatively, anyone see Carpano Antica Formula (sweet vermouth) in restaurants around town? This is a high-end sweet vermouth that could prolly elevate my cocktails to the next level. Now, if only I could find it (not in SAQ or LCBO).

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  1. I'm curious, I google that, and came upon this :

    "After almost five months of aging $400 worth of rye and sweet vermouth in an $150 oak barrel, Jen Agg, co-owner and bartender of Toronto’s The Black Hoof, takes her first sip of her newest cocktail, a barrel-aged Manhattan.

    She tastes, then tastes some more, before reaching a verdict. “I’m going to go on the record,” she says. “I don’t care for this.”"

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maximilien

      I've eaten and drank at both those places referenced in the article (Black Hoof Cafe in Toronto and Clyde Common's in Portland). Though the article finished with a very positive note.
      In then end it's all about balance, especially in cocktails.

      I am a bit surprised that she used a new barrel. Also, why didn't she start tasting before? So she would have known when her batch was tainted with too much wood flavour. I would if I poured $400 of booze in something that might dramatically impact flavour.
      Tthe aged negroni I had at Clyde Commons only haf a very subtle wood flavour. Enough to make me want more.

      The oak chip flavour is a good idea. Though feels like cheating to me. But perhaps safer and less expensive.

    2. Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner NY sells small used barrels. Also try Vya sweet vermouth (available via amazon.com) if you get a chance.

      1 Reply
      1. re: barleywino

        I have seen a few barrels in antique stores but they tended to be of the larger variety. Perhaps an oak chip or cube method à la chateau Giscours, aging in a glass container? If the objective is to add phenols, this could definitely be a good DIY solution. The chips or cubes are often available at winemaking supply stores. It could also be a great way to make small batch experiments.

      2. Seagrams used to sell their aging barrels from the LaSalle plant. An Italian friend used to age his homemade wine in them, but I'm going back maybe 30 years when Seagrams actually produced here.
        Seems this guy is selling barrels
        http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-buy-and-s...
        but they're full sized 54 gallon jobbies.

        tocino's idea of chips was my first thought as well, where you can use a smaller vessel.

        1. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I would think it would be just as good (and a lot easier) to just go with a really high-quality barrel-aged liquor instead as your base. Not easy to find here, unfortunately, but certainly in places like NYC, you can find outstanding barrel-aged tequilas, bourbons, etc.

          1. This is outside the purview of a regional board, but on the ageing of cocktails, there are a few articles in here, look in the back issues. http://www.diffordsguide.com/class-ma...