Oak barrels, long the domain of wine and whiskey, are now associated with a trend in cocktails: bartenders the world over are aging libations in oak for weeks on end. Barrel aging softens and deepens the palette experience, making classics like Manhattans all the more enticing. Each ingredient maintains its distinctive characteristics, and yet, the flavors become more integrated with an oaky underlay.
Here in JH, where cocktailing is serious business, a handful of establishments are barrel- aging blends to great success.
Café Genevieve is leading the charge with not one but two barrel-aged cocktails on its bar menu. Reimagining the iconic Italian aperitif, Café G offers a barrel-aged Negroni, which smooths the kick of Campari and adds the complement of candied orange. Also on tap: a barrel-aged Manhattan made with Rye Whiskey and finished with brandied cherries.
Rendezvous Bistro ages a saucy version of the Manhattan in homage to the hipster hood in Brooklyn, Red Hook. The Bistro’s barrel-aged Red Hook blends Wyoming Whiskey with Sweet Vermouth and Luxardo, a liqueur made from a special Italian sour cherry. The result is a tangy take on the iconic Big Apple beverage.
Similarly inspired, The Kitchen offers a Barrel-Aged Brooklyn of Bulleit Rye, Luxardo, Vermouth, house-made clove bitters and Averna Amaro, a sweet, herbaceous Sicilian liqueur.
Fans of said cocktails can try their hand at barrel-aging by purchasing a mini barrel from Tuthilltown Spirits, New York’s first whiskey distillery to crop up since prohibition. Beyond the award-winning spirits they make in the Hudson Valley, Tuthilltown sells its custom-made American White Oak barrels in 1-, 2-,3- and 5-liter sizes, stocky vessels that come complete with a wooden spigot. Everything from Tequila to Cognac does well after doing time in one of their barrels. Uncork your concoction and be guaranteed a good time.