Barrel Aged Cocktails: Ready For Primetime?

Atlanta is finally seeing the barrel aged cocktail wave that has been sweeping the country over the past several months, as Iberian Pig in Decatur and sister restaurant Double Zero in Sandy Springs have rolled out barrel aged cocktails – the “Blackthorn” at Iberian Pig (gin, Dubonnet Rouge and Kirschwasser) and a Negroni at Double Zero (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth). Can it be coincidence that a restaurant by the name of Zero Zero in San Francisco also recently started serving barrel aged Negronis to much fanfare?

Barrel aging is, of course, a key ingredient in creating great bourbon, rye, Scotch, wine… and is seeing more and more use in beer as well. Its use in cocktails seems to be catching fire recently, especially in places like San Francisco and Portland and Chicago and New York, and now … Atlanta. The time in the barrel, as little as a thirty days for many of these cocktails, as many as thirty plus years for several coveted whiskies, imparts color and flavor from the wood and, often, from the spirit that was previously aged in that barrel. For cocktails, it clearly gives the ingredients time to meld, and for the lower alcohol elements (like vermouth) to oxidize and develop characteristics you wouldn’t normally find out of the bottle. See Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s blog for some interesting experiments you can even try at home (if you are adventurous and have a few hundred spare bucks to spend).

So… who has tried a barrel aged cocktail? How did you think it compared to its unaged version? Any other bars in the South doing interesting things with barrel aging? Let us know!

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