The idea of aging a cocktail in a barrel (similar to how whiskey is aged) has always sounded like an intriguing experiment, but I’d sipped some aged cocktails before with mixed results. Some didn’t stand out or seem worth the trouble. A few were damn tasty but also damn expensive, since the bar had to store a bunch of barrels for a month or more and charged for the effort. So I’ve never tried the DIY version.
But The Black Grouse sent me a cocktail aging kit, a recipe, and some of its scotch—the perfect incentive to give barrel-aging cocktails a try. Instead of a whole barrel, this kit came with some barrel staves (tiny aged barrel sticks!) and a small bottle. All I had to do was pop a stave in the bottle, pour in the drink ingredients, and wait a week.
Verdict: Delicious! I sampled the drink before aging it, and while it tasted good, the aging mellowed the flavors and made them deeper. The combination of bitter and sweet flavors seemed more integrated after a week in the bottle.
Smoky Old Mate
Makes 3 drinks
4 1/2 ounces The Black Grouse (blended scotch)
3 ounces Cynar
3 ounces Carpano Antica (sweet vermouth)
3 dashes grapefruit bitters (I used my DIY version)
Put all ingredients in a bottle along with a stave and seal. Let rest for one week (or longer, if desired) and then strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with an orange or grapefruit peel.
Recipe by John McCarthy, Greenwich Project