Barrel Aged Cocktails
This new craze in the cocktail revival is almost bordering on the ridiculous. Very few alcohol mixes actually get better when they age and you better hope the mixologist (gasp –that title) has the proper equipment and knows what he is doing with it. It sounds to me like an attempt to mix large batches of cocktails and sell them at inflated prices without actually custom making a drink for the person ordering it. This equals laziness with a better profit margin. A great way for the bar tender not to get to know his clientele. I’m chagrined if my bar tender does not properly rest my Guinness. I like my drinks strong and well made and large and appropriately cold for the type of drink I’ve ordered. That’s not too much ask for $12 to $20.00 is it?
It’s gimmick, even if bar tenders say the process takes time and careful patience. They still are a making a couple gallons of the stuff at once. The aging is supposed to take the edge off the cocktail and add a new element without using another ingredient. Gin is about the only alcohol that could benefit from barrel aging. Because of its botanicals it can stand up the old wine or whiskey barrel used. It would be stupid to re-age whiskey and vodka would practically turn into whiskey you barrel aged it. Some Mexican would shoot you (actually he would probably knife you) if you took good tequila and re-aged it. And he would be dead to rights doing so!
The barrel age drink has even hit my little town, no longer confined to posh hipster cities like San Francisco, Denver, New York, Aspen, and Seattle, those kinds of places where people with money think they are getting something unique. Or better. It’s just more expensive. The barrel aged drink I tried was not bad, but I could do it at home just as well without the barrel. Even with the aging, which did nothing to improve the taste of Hendricks combined with Lillet and Peychaud’s bitters, they still had to use a fresh orange slice. Come on, heat the rind over the drink with a flame first. If you are going to be snobbish about what kind of bar you’re running use a flame to release the essential oils. That looks a lot cooler than having a small wooden barrel on your bar. Let me also point out this is the same place that won’t carry Jack Daniels because it (as I was told by the maître de) is not a pure bourbon and has additives like caramel coloring. I checked later, it doesn’t. And the Jack Daniels’ company itself plainly states it is not bourbon. So get your facts straight when you are branding your bar’s attitude. Unless of course your attitude is hipster dufuss.
I’m not complaining about the restaurant, just stating the facts.