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If Don Draper were alive and non-fictional it seems likely that his tipple du jour would be barrel-aged cocktails. Of course, drinks have been aged in barrels for years. However, internationally renowned mixologists are experimenting with the concept and using it to create a new breed of cocktails. The idea is, you take a pre-mixed cocktail – Negronis are said to work particularly well – and keep it in a barrel for anywhere up to a couple of months. What emerges is a cocktail that you know and love, but with an interesting new flavor.
Mixologist Tony Conigliaro of the famed 69 Colebrooke Row in London is said to have masterminded the new craze. He experimented with aging Manhattan cocktails in glass vessels. In a fit of good old-fashioned, green-eyed one-upmanship, Portland-based Jeffrey Morgenthaler took the concept to a new level by aging the cocktails in barrels.
Barrel-aging seems to work particularly well with cocktails that contain gin. This is due to the fact that the barrels used to age the cocktails are whiskey barrels. Gin is thought to be one of the few spirits with flavors (called “botanicals”) that are strong enough to survive the earthy whiskey flavors that are inside the barrel.
The craze has been big in New York since the end of 2010 and it is now making its way over to Spain. If you’d like to sample a barrel-aged cocktail, head to Dime. This is a new concept restaurant where each piece of carefully chosen furniture in the eatery is actually for sale. Dime’s cocktail bar is run by Francesco Angotti, one of Barcelona’s top mixologists – pop in and say hello and ask him for one of his fine barrel-aged cocktails.