As we’re still in the process of figuring out how to handle a toddler and an infant at the same time, and don’t have a lot of spare time, here’s something I’m grateful for: a barrel-aged cocktail. Measured out weeks ago, I really don’t have to do any work to get one ready today, and that lack of work can mean the difference between having a drink and not having a drink when you’re busy. This time we’re playing around with aging a Martini, a drink that’s not normally supposed to be so brown but wears it well all the same. – Andrew
Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper
9 oz Dry Gin
9 oz Dry Vermouth
12 Dashes Citrus Bitters
Combine the gin and vermouth with some charred wooden staves (like these from Tuthilltown Spirits). Or, if you’re feeling fancy, you can try a wooden barrel or cask, soaked in water beforehand or else your spirits will leak out everywhere. Let it sit for a long while – two weeks to one month if you can stand it. When ready to serve, measure out three ounces, stir with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (This recipe will give you six servings.) Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!
This is a fun recipe to showcase the barrel aging process, tasting as you go to see how the wood changes the characteristics of the cocktail. Some drinks, like the Manhattan, take to barrel aging with ease. But the Martini starts out the aging process with lots of acrid, bitter notes and is pretty undrinkable after a week. But let it sit for longer – two weeks, or four, or more – and you’ll start to see the drink mellow out, the acrid notes replaced by a deep woodsy finish. It’s still recognizable as a Martini, with the gin and vermouth’s botanical notes, but with a toasty, oaky character and brown color that make it feel like an entirely new animal.
So the downside of barrel aging is that you have to wait a long time before you can enjoy your drink. The upside, on the other hand, if you can wait that long, is an unusual and delicious drink ready to pour when you really need one. Barrel-aging cocktails can be fun gifts to give to friends, but setting one up to age is a lot like giving a gift to future you.
So go do your future self a favor and start aging now!
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper