Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Uptown's Barrel-Aged Cocktails

The art of barrel aging has come to the Uptown Grill!

Barrel aging has become highly popular within the last year. From bourbons and beers to coffees and honeys, the flavor characteristics from barrel aging are the newest trend in the food and beverage industry. The process creates caramelized flavors of charred wood and hints of smoke into whatever liquid spends time in the staves of the wooden barrel.

We have purchased a 5-liter American oak barrel that is currently going through the curing process as I write this article. In the next day or 2, our very own barrel aged bourbon process will begin. Over the next few months, we will be aging different bourbons, whiskeys, brandys, rums and even tequilas to create some amazing cocktails we can call our very own. Vanilla and clove are the dominant flavors we're hoping to infuse into our spirits. Mark your calenders because 4 weeks from now you will get to enjoy a drink from our barrel! 

A barrel, also known as a cask or tun, is a hollow cylinder container that is traditionally made of wooden staves bound by wooden or metal hoops. The barrel as we know it today was most likely developed by the Celts around 350 BC as a watertight storage vessel that was stackable, easy to transport and withheld a lot of stress. Barrels have stored everything from wine, whiskey, brandy, oils, vinegars, beer or just plain water.

However, building barrels is not an easy process. There is a specific kind of wood (French and American white oak are best) that has to be split, dried and formed into thin staves. These staves are then heated to make pliable so they can be formed into shape and bound. Finally, the inside is charred so that the stored liquid picks up the flavors of the wood. Barrel aging has been around for centuries, but the last few years have seen substantial growth.

A few weeks back, Andrew, Kim (our bartender extraordinaires) and I started discussing how popular this trend had become. We all thought this was something we could do here so why not give it a try? Every great drink idea comes with a little experimenting, right? We might have just created the next big thing.

As I read the FAQ's on our new barrel, it states that these barrels can be used for as long as 10 years! Each spirit will be aged for a period of time to get the perfect amount of charred oak flavors. Once that spirit is removed, the next spirit will be added in hopes that it will not only pick up the oak flavors but also flavors of its previous stored spirit.

When you come in for your next meal or drink, you will notice our oak barrel resting on the back bar. Mark your calendars for the beginning of March and be sure to stop in to check out some Uptown exclusive, made from scratch, barrel-aged cocktails. We will be "testing" after 14-21 days, and we are very excited to see what we have created.


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