Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving means fall and fall means it is decorative gourd season.  So after you have stuffed yourself silly and watched some football, read this lovely Ode to Fall.

Note: There is colorful language.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

CLINK! Barrel aged cocktails

You know that I really like mixing and drinking cocktails. Well, Four Squares and I stumbled across something that takes cocktails to the next level. Okay, maybe not the next level, but at least to a different level-barrel aged cocktails. The idea is simple-mix up a very large batch of spirit based cocktails (sorry, fruit juice and eggs just won't work), without ice, pour into a charred American Oak barrel and wait. For a while. Maybe anywhere from 5-7 weeks. Be patient. Decant. Pour into a mixing glass over ice and stir until well chilled (these will all be stirred, refer to my post Shaken vs. Stirred). The effect is sublime but different for different drinks. The charred oak will exert a different influence based on what is in the barrel and for how long. The effect on whiskey would be expected to be much less emphatic than the effect on a clear spirit such as gin. My initial research supports this, although given only a small sample size (which of course I plan to address in the very near future, staring now!). I've included some photos of my first go at this, which incidentally is a Manhattan. I used a 2L barrel. Next up is the Negroni and the El Presidente.
I would be remiss if I didn't cite my muse-Jeffrey Morgenthaler. I believe he deserves credit for at the very least introducing this hair-brained idea to the US. Check out his blog post on the subject, and if you are ever in Portland go to Clyde Common and order up a barrel aged cocktail for yourself. You won't be disappointed.


Barrel aged Manhattan

Recipe for my very first batch of barrel-aged Manhattans:
600 ml Four Roses Bourbon
300 ml Noily Pratt Sweet Vermouth
30 ml Angostura Bitters
So, I siphoned off one drink worth of Manhattans prior to putting about 1L into the barrel. It is a very good drink without aging, I must say. A little sweeter than I am accustomed to, definitely some caramel from the bourbon and more than a hint of earthiness from the sweet vermouth. Also I used a little more Angostura bitters than usual, so there is certainly a very herbal balance, especially on the back end. Nice feel in the mouth and lingers with alcohol for a few seconds after it goes down.
Fast forward 36 days. An unqualified success! The result is a robust Manhattan with a distinct yet mild wood flavor and aroma, but nothing that overpowers the essence of the drink. It is still very clearly a Manhattan. Otherwise, the flavors have melded together nicely and it goes down very smooth. The initial rough edges have definitely smoothed out.  The wood is a little stronger towards the back end, right before the finish. Still a little concerned about the bitters-probably too much in this batch but I’ll remedy that in the next batch.  Also, I'll probably leave the next batch in the barrel a bit longer so that it picks up even more of the wood.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekend Plans

1. Art Conspiracy is Saturday - 150 artists, bidding starts at 20 bucks, with music from Datahowler, The Hope Trust and J. Charles and the Trainrobbers.  Proceeds from the auction benefit Music Angels, a group that provides piano lessons to children in Dallas-area hospitals.  Buy your tickets here.

2. Saturday morning take your puppy up to Addison to get a holiday photo with Santa.  Proceeds from the photos benefit the Greyhoud Adoption League of Texas.

3. Saturday and Sunday is also the Lakewood Homes Tour and Market.