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Mike Filigenzi

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CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Mike Filigenzi » Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:38 am

Barrel aged cocktails seem to have gone from hot new trend to basic requirement for fancy-schmancy cocktail bars. Unlike a lot of the other hot trends and basic requirements for these places (like weird infusions of strange rare ingredients) these are relatively easy for the fancy-schmancy home cocktail enthusiast to get into. With that in mind, a couple of my pals and I picked up a 3 liter medium char oak barrel and filled it with the basic Negroni - 1 part each of gin (Tanquerey), sweet vermouth (Noilly Prat), and Campari (Campari). This was a brand-spanking new barrel, so we were pretty sure we'd get very rapid oak effect and we were very correct on that. A taste after three days showed a pronounced oak character and the cocktail was bottled on day four. So how'd it come out? Pretty darn good. The Negroni has a fair amount of flavor on its own, so it could handle a decent dose of caramel, vanilla, and wood. The nose shows a bit of oak plank character to it, which comes off as somewhat unrefined. On the palate, though, you get more of that caramel and vanilla, which really does add something nice to the drink. We all consider this one a success and I'm betting we'll consider it even more of one with some further time in the bottle.

The barrel is currently full of cheap vodka just to keep it clean (and, I suppose, make some dubiously cheap barrel aged vodka). We're talking about what to do next. I had a rather interesting barreled Martini just a couple of days ago....
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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Hoke » Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:06 am

Boulevardier?

Blood and Sand?

Saw a cocktail tonight---but didn't have a chance to try it though---that was called a "BBQ Negroni". Rinse with just a tad of Peat Monster Pure Malt Scotch, then mix 1 1/2 ounces Aviation Gin, 1/2 ounce Campari, 1/2 ounce Punt e Mes, 1/4 ounce Imbue Bittersweet vermouth and garnish with a "porkstrami" wrapped cherry.

Not too sure about a cherry wrapped in "porkstrami" as a garnish, but the drink sounds intriguing, no?
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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Mike Filigenzi » Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:30 am

That does sound like a tasty one. The Scotch rinse would be worth trying in a regular Negroni.
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Bill Buitenhuys

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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Bill Buitenhuys » Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:18 am

I'm with Hoke on this one. The Boulevardier is a good transition to pick up any residual Campari notes. Then maybe a Manhattan twist using an amaro as the modifier vs. vermouth?
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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Mike Filigenzi » Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:12 pm

Yeah, Boulevardier might be a good next step.

The barreled martini I had a couple of days ago was interesting in the lack of color and mildness of the oak in it. Once our barrel has had a few more drinks cycled through it, I wouldn't mind giving that a shot. A Martinez might also be a worthwhile project.
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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Hoke » Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:43 pm

It will be interesting to see how many cocktails you can cycle through the barrel before you begin noticing the lack of impact of wood.

Be difficult because you've got the wood effect, the oxidative effect and now the residual of whatever impact the previous cocktail ingredients left in the barrel.

Hey, Mike: you still have some Calisaya, don't you? That might be interesting in a barrel aged cocktail.

It's a bit sweeter than the Campari, and carries more floral notes, but the intense orange is definitely there. I might be tempted to go with gin, Calisaya, maybe a Chinato, or even consider Cardamaro for a slightly milder drink.

Come to think of it, how about a Negroni with Punt e Mes instead of regular vermouth. That would give you the extra bitterness and authority without having to add an extra bittering agent.
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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Mike Filigenzi » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:48 am

Yeah, a gin/Calisaya thing ought to work well. I'll have to start working that up. Most of my Calisaya currently goes into a rye/vermouth drink that wouldn't be as good in a barrel as a gin version.

It will be really interesting to see how those different effects - wood, oxidation, previous inhabitants - combine with the booze. For better or worse, each of these will be unique!
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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Hoke » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:52 am

More random thoughts on barrel aged cocktails. (Sorry)

It's kinda interesting that gin is only occasionally aged in barrels---and I have to admit, I don't like the majority of those barrel aged gins I tried---but gin-based drinks are often used in barrel aged cocktails.

See, I don't associate gin with barrels. And I haven't had it proven to me as yet that gin aged in barrels is a good thing or not, or that the components that barrels add to gin are overall a good thing.

So, along those lines, I might do a barrel aged cocktail with something like a Tequila Negroni, rather than gin. I HAVE had it proven to me that tequila can take on a reposado style short-aging quite nicely, and even a good solid anejo aging, although that's not my favorite style of tequila as I think it suppresses the essential nature of the tequila too much for my taste (and if I want whisky, I'll drink whisky).

But then I think I'd like to go one step further in experimentation: try to ascertain the difference between simple oxidative aging---spirit not in wood, but in a container exposed to air---as opposed to wood effect and oxidative aging combined. Then you could try to pinpoint exactly what oxidative aging brings, as well as what the barrel brings.

Might like to try evaporative/concentrative aging effects as well, but I'm hesitant to give so much of my good spirit away to the angels, greedy creatures that they are. And finally, put one barrel in a basement and just let it sit there, while taking another barrel filled the same on long car trip, then try them side by side.

Of course, I'll never do that, because that's way too many cocktails to drink in a short period of time, and I like variety. :lol:
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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Mike Filigenzi » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:21 pm

Now that's the spirit of scientific inquiry I like to see, Hoke!

BTW, I agree completely regarding tequila. At the reposado level, the wood adds a wonderful accent to the basic tequila flavor palette. At the anejo level, it tends to obliterate the subtleties, which to me results in a waste of a good spirit.
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Re: CTN: The Well Seasoned Negroni

by Hoke » Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:29 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:Now that's the spirit of scientific inquiry I like to see, Hoke!

BTW, I agree completely regarding tequila. At the reposado level, the wood adds a wonderful accent to the basic tequila flavor palette. At the anejo level, it tends to obliterate the subtleties, which to me results in a waste of a good spirit.


Just so! I'll use the same quote I used in an article I wrote on restaurants.

Ran into an old Moustache Pete Italian chef in New York many years ago who absolutely hated the American penchant for glopping too much sauce on everything, and he told me the secret to the best saucing:
"It's a sauce, not a gravy. Enhance the food; don't drown it."


That's the way I feel about tequila. Reposado can be great; the moderate wood/oxidation enhances the natural tequila flavors and texture. Anejo, for me, not so good, as I think it drowns a lot of the natural tequila flavor.

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