Thursday, March 11, 2010
Barrel Aged Cocktails in Portland
In the mid-20th-century, it was not uncommon for large liquor makers to offer completed cocktails in bottle form. One could buy pre-mixed Sazeracs, Martinis and Manhattan in bottle form, along with several other popular drinks. I myself own an ancient mini-bottle of Gordon's Martini Cocktail. This sort of marketing approach is still in practice, uses for popular, party-time libations like the Mojito and Margarita.
I've always considered the whole idea of pre-mixed cocktails somewhat trashy (Cocktails for the Lazy and Incompetent?) and unappetizing. However, the estimable Portland bartender and mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler is currently experimenting with an interesting twist on the concept.
At Clyde Common, the Portland bar where he is bar manager, Morgenthaler is offering cask-aged versions of such cocktails as the Manhattan, Trident and Negroni. He poured large doses of the necessary ingredients for each into used three-gallon Tuthilltown whiskey barrels and ages them in the basement of the bar for up to two months. For the Manhattan, for instance, he put together a barrel's worth of Beam rye, Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, Angostura bitters and house orange bitters.
Morgenthaler said he got the idea from Tony Conigliaro in London, who ages Manhattans in glass bottles.
The Barrel-Aged Manhattans are currently on the Clyde Common drink menu. I can almost imagine what effect the whiskey-cured wood would have on the cocktail. What a whiskey-barrel-aged Negroni would taste like is harder to conjure.