If you’ve been anywhere near the cocktail industry in the last two years, you’ve noticed that aged cocktails are having a moment. Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common in Portland is widely credited with bringing this technique to the United States, and he certainly popularized it. We have aged whiskey at home before with pretty good results, and so we thought we would apply the same method to see if we could approximate the result one would get by barrel-aging a cocktail.
The first thing to do is make your cocktail, so we took the recipe we like for a perfect bourbon manhattan, multiplied it by four, and poured it into a bottle with some pieces of charred American oak that we got from the homebrew store in our neighborhood.
2 oz. bourbon
½ oz. sweet vermouth
½ oz. dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
We let this age for ten days, then strained it twice through cheesecloth to remove any debris from the oak cubes.
Chill a martini glass and stir 3-4 ounces of the aged cocktail with ice for about 30 seconds to chill it. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
We cannot recommend this process highly enough. The charred oak aging smooths out the flavors of the cocktail in a really rich way. We love how we can now just pour a beautifully made manhattan at any time with no hassle. This would be great to pour for friends if you’re hosting a dinner party and don’t want the added mess of cocktail-mixing.
Bourbon can be infused with pretty much anything, and though we’re not always keen on drinking a glass of infused bourbon on its own, it can be very useful for cooking or baking.
We have a little something up our sleeves for later in the week, so this weekend we combined some strawberries with Basil Hayden’s. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.
*Update: Here’s the final strawberry-infused bourbon in all its pretty pink glory. We used to make tasty ice cream.
About 3½ months ago, we tossed a few charred oak cubes into a 350 ml bottle of House Spirits White Dog to see what would happen. We’ve been checking in on it, tasting small samples of it until last night, when we decided it had become tasty enough to drink up.
Overall, we were surprised at how smooth the whiskey became. It turned a nice glassy amber with good clarity. It still had the same medicinal smell as the original white whiskey, but it picked up a number of fun flavors. (Rachel still couldn’t get over the scent, though she really liked the taste.) It tasted like apple juice and vanilla on the tongue, with the charred oak flavor coming on strong in the linger, which kept going for quite a while. Rachel also caught a note of red table grapes. This whiskey isn’t very spicy, but is full-bodied.
We decided to save most of the whiskey for a special occasion like, say, the off chance we have a bunch of people over to taste different whiskeys. Bonus: here’s the monkey cozy we’ve been keeping the whiskey in while it grows up. You’ve seen it before, but it’s still awesome:
We’ve had the House Spirits White Dog for a while now. While it’s pretty good to drink on its own, it also begs to be played with, as noted when we made our white whiskey cocktail. Well, we’re back at it again. We picked up a bag of charred American oak from a local homebrew supply store and dropped it inside a portion of our House Spirits whiskey.
The oak has only been sitting in our white dog for less than a week, and it’s already started to effect a slight change in color.
This picture makes the whiskey look darker than it actually is. It’s probably reflecting the colors of the oak and the table, but the color is still very slightly beige. We’ll be tasting it periodically and will keep you updated on this little experiment.
Last week we jarred up our apple-vanilla bourbon to let it steep for the week. We tasted it after about three days and decided it needed a lot more time. At that point, the apples hadn’t affected the bourbon flavor at all, while the vanilla smothered everything. We let it sit another three days, hoping the apples would grab hold. Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
The final product is a pleasant infusion. We used Berkshire Bourbon so we could end up with a super New Englandy product. I could imagine apple-vanilla bourbon as a fine addition to some Autumn orchard excursions. There’s an apple tartness followed by the vanilla smoothness to the flavor, all without completely masking the bourbon’s flavor.
That being said, this probably isn’t something we’re likely to drink straight. We’re more interested in how we can use it in cocktails. Of course we’ll be posting those results here as well.
As you can see, we repurposed an empty Hudson Four Grain Bourbon bottle to store this new creation in. Its label washed off easily and the cork is still sealing well. It looks like the multi-purpose aspect of these bottles is helping to offset the expense of the Hudson bourbon.
Another potentially fun situation we have on our hands is we now have a mason jar full of apples that have been soaking in bourbon for a week. There has to be something fun we could make with them, right?
Today’s post will be brief because we’re not exactly sure what we’ve made yet. We’ll find out in about a week or so. We’ve been curious about this DIY Apple-Vanilla Bourbon for awhile, and, since it’s really simple, we decided to give it a try. Here’s what you need:
1 cup bourbon
1 apple, cored and cut into chunks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Put apple and vanilla bean into a container, add bourbon, seal, and shake. Let it steep for 5 to 7 days. Strain through cheesecloth and store.
So, we’ll see this little guy in about a week.
Mom likes a Cosmo. Dad prefers a nice scotch on the rocks. You’re more of a Manhattan— but you were raised in Brooklyn, so you like to throw in some Amer Picon… but you were never one for the super-sweet, so no Maraschino for you. Ah, the evolution of the cocktail— we do it every day in our kitchens. Substitutions, adaptations, crazy drunken hunches. But just because you’re a kitchen mixologist doesn’t mean you should rinse history down the drain. Brush up on your knowledge with this handy (and coffee table-worthy) guide. An Illustrated Guide To Cocktails will take you through the history of your favorite boozy beverages, and even hook you up with a recipe or two. And, of course, the illustrations are nothing to scoff at either. Just be sure not to spill. Get it here.