Cocktail Aging Barrels
We love aging cocktails in oak barrels as they give your cocktail more depth and richness as the cocktail seems to mellow and lose its harsh edges and round itself out with subtle hints of oak and vanilla. You’ll want to stick with booze, as fruits and other organics can cause mold. Cocktail barrels typically come in sizes from 1 to 20 liters. We’ve found the 3-liter barrel to be best suited for home use and for experimentation. In addition, the smaller the barrel, the more quickly it will “age” and influence your drink. (A 3-liter barrel will show its influence in about 30 days whereas a 20-liter barrel needs an additional two weeks to attain the same character.) Look for tight-jointed thick-walled oak barrels with a medium char and purchase them unvarnished so they are able to breath. Be certain to keep a record of the barrel’s contents as what you store in it the first time will subtly influence the taste of that which follows. Check out some of the Barrel Aged Cocktails we have made.
Barrel management is important. Initially clean the barrel by rinsing it with water until it is free of all wood bits. Clean the barrel between sessions by using 1 teaspoon of citric acid per 5 liters of water, shaking it in barrel for 5 minutes and then rinsing it out with fresh water.
Most barrels will leak a bit initially (typically from the head/butt seam). While most recommend soaking the barrel with water for a day to expand the wood and seal the seams, we prefer just adding our cocktail mixture – sacrificing a bit of barrel staining for a cocktail that is free of unnecessary water.