One of the first things you need to do when you start barrel aging cocktails is: get a barrel and season it. Now different people will tell you different things about what this require. I fill my 5 litre barrel from Tuthillton with water and sank it in a bathtub of water over night. Apparently this isn’t enough, after I had poured my cocktail into my barrel it began to leak.
Then I read somewhere else that they filled their barrel with water and let it sit for a week! So Neil freaked out and I got a baking dish to put under my barrel and for the first half an hour the front and back of the barrel dripped Manhattan. I knew it would stop once the barrel was wet enough to expand. Indeed it did in about 45 minutes. I waited a while longer and pour the run off back into the barrel. Now I wait.Here’s the other thing I learned while I hemmed and hawed about what kind of cocktail to make and did I really need a 5 liter barrel or, more to the point, did I really need 5 litres worth of cocktails! After reading and researching the conclusion I came to was: no you don’t need to fill your barrel full. So no you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on booze to make a vast quantity of cocktails. Because I only made a litres worth cocktail in a 5 litre container it will age quicker because of the surface to liquid ratio. Every week you can turn the barrel 90 degrees to further make use of all that thirsty oak.
As a novice 5 litres seems a good size barrel not too big not too small – but in reality for my purposes it’s probably too big. 2-3 liters would have been fine, certainly I’m not complaining and I think next I might buy some unaged corn whiskey and let it sit for a few months.The recipe was easy:
Barrel Aged Manhattan
1 bottle Rye Whisky (25 ounces/750 ml)
7 ounces Sweet Vermouth
2 Ounces Angostura bitters
Mix it in a jug and using a funnel pour it into your barrel, cork it up and in about 4 weeks it should be done…I’m going to start tasting mine in 2 weeks — I’ll keep you update on the progress. Oh and if you can still get some fresh local sour cherries, you can candy them – the perfect accompaniment to your Manhattan.