LIQUID CULTURE: Barrel and Bottle Aging
In mixology, the “there’s nothing new under the sun” truism tends to apply across the board. And it’s as true for bottle and barrel-aging as anything else. London’s Tony Conigliaro first began his bottle-aging journey years ago, with an inaugural batch of bottle-aged Manhattans (the barrel version was too woody). And Mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler brought the practice stateside "almost exactly two years ago" (after tasting Conigliaro's bottle-aged Manhattan) with a barrel-aged cocktail program at Portland's Clyde Common. But 2011 was the year of the bottle-and-barrel-aging resurgence, at least as far as our cocktail diet’s concerned. At NYC’s Fedora, Brian Bartels gives the house “Fedora” cocktail a three-month soak in Tuthilltown barrels. Alex Kratena of Artesian Bar at London’s The Langham gets the best of both worlds, dosing a bottle of his “Artesian Vieux Carré” cocktail with a wooden stave of charred and un-charred American oak. And at ICC 2011, ForkandShaker.com consultant Naren Young demonstrated the various approaches to barrel-aging—including rapid infusion and charred staves—and recommended barrel-experimentation in general (though he prefers American oak for his “Barrel-aged Brooklyn”).