Entrepreneur. Cocktail and spirit champion. Old world wine provocateur.
Alright, so this may have been played out last year in Portland and NYC, but it really hasn’t taken root here in the Mid-Atlantic. Jeffrey Morgenthaler was the pioneer here in the states and he deserves credit for a lot of what has happened with barrel aging. He started doing this many moons ago and has paved the way for the rest of us.
Nevertheless, you can be late to the game nationally and still pretty early on in your particular geographic area, which seems to be the case out in these parts. And as we learned with the hop infused gin experiments, your competitive advantage can last all of ten minutes before someone else takes it to heart and starts doing something similar. But that’s all good, it helps keep everyone on their toes and makes us continue to find new things to do to stay ahead.
So I snagged a few oak barrels over the past few weeks that I’ve started putting to use. One was a Beaujolais barrel that came from Steve up at Oliver Ales in Baltimore while the other one came from Tuthilltown Spirits in New York. The Tuthilltown barrel is whiskey cured new oak, which I am pretty certain will impart a lot of character to the cocktail. So I started there, using a rye based cocktail as my base. There have been a number of barrel aged Manhattans floating around on the interwebs lately, so I decided to go a similar route with a twist and move forward with the pre-cursor to the Manhattan, the Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn cocktail has some similarities to the Manhattan as it is a combination of rye whiskey and vermouth. But this drink uses dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth and it adds complexity with maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon. Unfortunately, you can’t really get your hands on Amer Picon these days. But lucky for us, there are some appropriate substitutes and I used Ramazotti, a bitter Italian Amaro.
My goal here is to age this for 6 – 8 weeks, tasting along the way to see where the sweet spot may be. Stay tuned for updates, tasting notes and the final results.