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Nov 26, 2013 09:19 PM

Aged in Wood Cocktails

I recently read something about this and wondered if anyone here has any experience with this. It sounds like you mix your cocktail ingredients in approximately bottle sized proportions and then age them in a wood barrel for a few weeks or a month to smooth the drink.

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  1. I have not tried at home, but have been considering it. I think you are supposed to try to fill the barrel so that there is as little air as possible in it while aging.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cobpdx

      You know, that makes sense to me, but this place says it's not necessary.
      I'm not arguing the point; I just don't know.
      Fumbling around here on something new to me.

    2. I've done quite a few of these and also given used whiskey, rum, and brandy barrels to the top cocktail bars in NYC to use for their barrel aged cocktail programs. I have several barrel aged manhattans, negronis, and old fashioneds aging right now to go on the cocktail menu in my new bar when it opens in two weeks.

      You have to get small barrels, 2, 3, 5 gallon, used ones, from an artisanal distillery. They need to be filled to the top to prevent oxidization. 3-5 weeks aging does the trick.

      If you use a new, micro barrel, it over-woods easily. 2 weeks is usually enough time.

      It doesn't "smooth" the cocktail. It adds barrel flavors/aromas. It can stomp all over some cocktails and ruin them.

      If you don't have a barrel you can bottle age a cocktail.

      12 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        I have seen some 2,3, and 5 gallon barrels available, new, and not too expensive. Is there any way to get the "new" out of them?

        1. re: yayadave

          Where have you seen these and for how much? Some barrels are not appropriate for this purpose.

          1. re: JMF

            This is the one I found with-out much trouble.

            These mention being charred on the inside.

            1. re: yayadave

              These are the same barrels I use at work and have been running a barrel aged program for 2 years now. I run around 8 barrels at the same time, and the effect is pretty fun.

              We use the 5 liters and add around 4 liters of cocktail to the barrel. There is a direct correlation between the size of the barrel and aging time.

              I have also found that the aging takes longer, the longer you use them. We are on our second full round of barrels.

              The toast is a medium to a medium plus toast on these barrels, and the first few infusions are very heavy on the woodiness, I would recommend an extra long soak time with water to pull out as much of that oak taste as possible.

              One last thing is that the black ring barrels (The Cheapest) will discolor the barrels around the contact points if liquid hits them, so i would recommend getting the galvanized ones or the brass ones if they will be in front of customers.

              Let me know if you have any other questions

              1. re: ABarAbove

                Thank you for this information. I though the steel rings would be fine. Guess not.

                I seem to have been lucky enough to get good, informed answers to my query.

                Are you making eight different cocktails or just using that many barrels to keep the finished product staggered?

                I've seen a couple of really interesting recipes with some not so usual ingredients. I'll probably just make one at a time for a start.
                These look good:

                1. re: yayadave

                  Eight different recipes. Some elegant, some more humorous. One that was less elegant but sold well was an 86 Company cocktail. Our bar manager mentioned to Simon Ford and the rep that with rum, vodka, gin, and tequila, they were pretty much a Long Island Iced Tea. A few moments later, the bar was offered a barrel if we aged it and sold it as what was dubbed the "Wrong Island Iced Tea". Right, now it's an adaptation of a Periodista as a barrel-aged Hot Toddy.

                  1. re: yarm

                    That's the kind of drink I'd hate, but might order anyhow just because of the name.

                    Any you, abhorrer of cocktail name puns!

                  2. re: yayadave

                    We are just doing one cocktail- a barrel aged Manhattan, which has become a staple on our menu now. We stagger the barrels to keep up with demand.

                    1. re: ABarAbove

                      not sure if this is against TOS, but is that bar in NYC? if so, where? We are really getting into our barrels and I would love to bring my husband by a place with a large program.

                      1. re: CarmenR

                        I believe we have one in Boston and one in San Francisco. Interesting what the internet can bring together.

          2. We do this at work and have about 8 aging at once. Luckily, spirits companies give the barrel as an incentive to fill it each time with their products (the barrels are branded with Bacardi, Whistlepig, or other and are on display). The key is to fill the barrel with water and let it soak until it no longer leaks.

            Flavors do meld together and the effect can be tasty. Not sure if it is all worth the effort though.

            As for JMF's bottle aging comment, you can buy toasted oak chips from a brewery/wine making store (or on ebay) and put it in with the cocktail in a mason jar. It isn't the same as barrel aging, but it does add wood notes to the mix. Go light on the roast or the amount of wood (and taste for completion frequently) for it is a lot of surface area for a small weight of wood.


            4 Replies
            1. re: yarm

              I doubt if anyone around here is doing that. If I'm ever around your town, I'll surely stop and sample. Would I have to try eight different cocktails? I'm pretty sure I'd fall off the bar stool.

              1. re: yayadave

                16 because surely you'll want to compare them to un-aged cocktails, right? ;)

                1. re: yayadave

                  We only have one or sometimes two at a time. Too much to tell people about since it doesn't appear on the menu.

              2. We have 3 1-liter barrels and have just started experimenting with them. The first pass was a negroni with beefeater, cochhi torino and campari- it was pretty damn tasty. They were a gift from my sister, who also has them- her husband bottled up a "lazy-mans sazarac" that we've been enjoying a great bit. I'm thinking of making another batch of the negroni and bottling them up in minibottles as party-favors for our xmas party in a few weeks.

                2 Replies
                1. re: CarmenR

                  This place has a recipe for a Tequila Negroni that I'm looking at:

                  How long did your first attempt rest in the barrel?

                  1. re: yayadave

                    total time was probably about 3 weeks, but honestly we started tapping it about 8 days in ;)

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