Ageing a cocktail is certainly not a matter of only wood barrels but there are other techniques which help to smooth out and integrate flavours together.
A few facts before ageing a cocktail
- White spirits such as Gin or Tequila works best as a base for ageing
- Wine-based alcohols Vermouth or Sherry better interact with air and add an earthy quality
- Use ratio 2:1:1 Base Spirit to Bitter to Sweet component
- Try to avoid ingredients like Fresh Juices or Dairy when ageing a cocktail because not all ingredients can be barrel-aged
Barrel ageing is probably the most complex ageing technique since the wood barrel is ingredient itself so I’ve created step-by-step guide:
How to make barrel-aged cocktails
- Soak barrel with warm water to prevent leaking
- Combine all ingredients in a large container and using a funnel pour into a barrel and seal it
- Let the mixture to age in a barrel for a few weeks(4-8weeks) depending on Factors which influence barrel ageing so don’t forget to sample the batch regularly
- Strain the final product through the cheesecloth into the large container to remove any sediment
- Refill barrel with water to prevent from drying out
- Pour the batch into sealable bottles where you can store them
- To Serve a cocktail stir 75ml of the batch in mixing glass until chilled, strain into Martini or Rocks glass filled with ice and garnish
Ageing a cocktail in a bottle is the slowest technique but with a greater complexity which occurs over time. This might seem to be waste of time since it’s generally accepted that spirits don’t age in a bottle because of its high ABV but what scientists are recently suggesting it doesn’t have to be totally impossible.
As we know wines which are kept in bottles will mature and developed its complexity over the years and most of the cocktails are about a halfway between ABV of wine and spirit. So there might be some kind of development in terms of ageing.
But what is it that helps to smooth out the flavours during bottle ageing? One of the explanation might be that molecules of alcohol, water and other ingredients don’t mix together evenly once they are freshly shaken so after a period of time bottle ageing helps to mix ingredients together resulting in a smoother experience.
Steel ageing seems to work 6-10 times faster than in the glass and has a more profound smoothing effect on a cocktail. Steel ageing is the way to go if you don’t want to add any additional flavours to your cocktail unlike in oak barrel ageing and best of all it’s easy and affordable when buying steel drinking flasks.