What happens when wood, air and cocktails come together? A very tasty experience that is quickly becoming all the rage. Global Gourmet Catering has started making barrel-aged cocktails and the results have been amazing. Clients can now ask our mixologists to make and barrel any cocktail of their choosing, four to six weeks before an event.
You might be wondering, “What’s the benefit of barrel-aging cocktails?” That’s a great question. Not only does the flavor of the cocktail develop over time, but the finished product is integrated with the delicious oaky flavors of vanilla and caramel from the wood, and the character and flavor of the drink is mellowed in the same way as wines and distilled spirits.
The trend was recently started by Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row in London who took to aging cocktails in a glass. This idea was later brought to the United States by Jeffrey Morgenthaler who tweaked the British practice by aging in wood barrels to play with the flavor. However, the practice of barrel-aging cocktails has technically been around since at least the early 1800’s. The first printed mention of the word ‘cocktail’ cropped up around 1806 and during that time most cocktails were pre-mixed and stored in wooden casks out of necessity and then transferred to bottles to be served. Premixing drinks and serving them in bottles was done so customers could take their favorite cocktail with them when traveling or when bars were legally required to be closed on Sundays.
The science behind barrel-aging cocktails is quite complex as there are many factors to take into consideration. The size of the barrel, what previous ingredients were in the barrel, how many times the barrel has been used, and the type of oak can all give different taste results.
There are three main stages to the process: infusion, oxidation and extraction. The cocktail first takes on flavors from the wood, then oxidizes which creates a nutty flavor. And in the last stage, sugars are created when the barrel reacts to the acidity of the cocktail, which softens the drink and integrates flavors you don’t get otherwise.
Global Gourmet is currently aging our Manhattan, an Empire featuring Gin and Campari, and a Lemon Ginger Drop. We cannot wait to sample the results!