Barrel Cocktails Sunday, December 11, 2016
So much like our menus in the dining room, the bar menu at The Original is designed to highlight the flavor, nuance and care of the Craft Cocktail and handcrafted movement our city embraces. The bar program at The Original proudly serves its Barrel Aged cocktails to guests with the idea of giving its customers the optimal drinking experience.
The barrel aging process begins with either a brown or clear spirit. While brown spirits are preferred in our program for barrel aging, clear spirits also work great for cocktails. With the clear spirits (gin, vodka, and tequila) the aging process is much more defined which also means that less time is needed from start to finish. In the process of brown spirits (whiskey) the age is much longer, as the aging notes take longer to surface as the base spirit has already spent many years maturing in oak barrels. The different flavor notes from the aging process are more subtle but are even more complementary to the given cocktail.
For our Cosmopolitan and Long Island the goal is to age the clear spirit for about five weeks. The shorter aging time allows for an enhanced flavor as not to overpower the initial flavors of the cocktails. These types of drinks use the barrel aged spirit for the purpose of “smoothing it out” rather than adding extra, intense flavor. The result is a cocktail we deem “dangerously smooth.”
For our other flagship cocktails such as the Manhattan and Negroni the aging process is a minimum of eight weeks, however we will let them age for as much as six months. Soon The Original will feature a six month Manhattan and Boulevardier and in early 2017 a six month Sazerac. Enhancing these classic cocktails is reminiscent of the way our Executive Chef AJ and his team develop classic comfort foods and give them a modern facelift.
The intention behind our barrel aged cocktails is to create a smoother and much more complex product for our guests. When aging a spirit the “heat” from the base alcohol lessens and allows all of the ingredients to marry together in a smoother and much more balanced way. Take our barrel aged Manhattan for example – the rye whiskey, vermouth and bitters are in balance with one another and the overall effect is controlled and even.
In our aging process we use charred American Oak barrels. Charred barrels are important because when the barrel is charred it caramelizes the natural sugars that are contained in the oak. This caramelization (also known as the ‘maillard reaction’) imparts notes of caramel, butterscotch and vanilla to name a few. These subtleties also produce a nice nose for each cocktail which also enhances the guests’ experience. At The Original we take a lot of care in our barrel aged program because we feel good things come to those who wait.