Barrel-aging has increasingly become a popular trend in mixology over the past year, however, instead of barrel-aging full cocktails at a time, which has proven to have its limitations, The Regal – Williamsburg’s newest diner and cocktail bar – puts a twist on the trend by barrel-aging just its spirits.
Barrel-aging full cocktails has drawbacks, like losing the freshness of the other ingredients. This eliminates a lot of factors that go into making cocktail creation and mixology interesting. Ingredients like house-made syrups, tinctures and fresh juices become obsolete in the cocktail making process if barrel-aged. Another downside is the elimination of the bartending experience. There is a limited amount of craftsmanship and personal touch when it comes to the barrel-aging cocktail process in respect to bartending.
Beverage Director Steven Escobar has found a solution for The Regal’s extensive cocktail program in barrel-aging just the spirits, still giving each cocktail individuality and adding a modern twist to the classics as well as his original creations. With this process, comes at minimum a richness of color but also a depth of flavor that can only be achieved by the spirit’s time spent in a charred oak barrel – usually five to ten days (depending on the spirit). The oak, smoke and earthiness characteristics can turn even the most traditional cocktail recipe into something totally different and adds a level of complexity that isn’t typical in a cocktail made with standard spirits.
At The Regal, miniature wooden barrels house spirits like rum, bourbon, vodka, gin and rye whiskey, all of which are in the process of being aged. They are then transferred to dispensers and ready for use. A large block of ice is sawed into cubes, strips and shavings to top off the cocktails with sophistication.
A few cocktails include the Powder Keg; barrel-aged rye, cinnamon clove syrup, apple cider, lemon, classics like an Old Fashioned; barrel-aged bourbon, cane sugar, angostura bitters, and a Vodka Smash; barrel-aged vodka, mint, fresh berries, lemon and ginger beer.
Visit The Regal in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to give these barrel aged cocktails a try, or give the ‘Vodka Smash’ a mix for yourself.
- 1 3/4 oz. Barrel-Aged Vodka
- 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz. Cane Syrup
- 6 Mint Leaves
Preparation: Shake, top with Ginger Beer. Top off with berries.