Friday, February 8, 2013

Thinking of Drinking: Barrel-Aged Cocktails

Yes We Cantaloup: Bacardi, Cantaloupe, cayenne, and lemon, this new cocktail is a take on the Hemingway daiquiri.
BLT Steak is taking cocktails to a whole new level.  The trendy steakhouse serves up classic steakhouse fare with a twist.  Everything from the food and drinks to the vibe of the dining room is progressive.

The restaurant is now offering barrel aged cocktails and invited guests to join for a night of education and fun.  We learned about the barrel aging process, why it produces a perfectly balanced cocktail, and best of all, we had the chance to taste the creations with savory BLT snacks from Chef Jon Mathieson.  

We sipped on the delicious Inaugural drink while new BLT mixologists, Steve Oshana and Rico Wisner, gave us a quick cocktail lesson. 

Steve and Rico who are behind this new program look at the prohibition era as a time when cocktails really started.  A relatively new idea, barrel aging cocktails is taking a classic cocktail and making it more progressive.  Using wood barrels made form a local barrel maker, the entire cocktail is blended and aged in the barrel for a couple weeks depending on the desired outcome.  The wood gives the cocktail a smoothness, a vanilla characteristic, and a less harsh, rounded texture.  It's the basic concept as aging wine in a barrel.  

The first barrel aged cocktail we tried was the Negroni.  Made of organic gin, apreol, and sweet vermouth, this cocktail was smooth and rich.  It has a thicker texture than I expected, and had little to no gin taste.  It was a pretty rich cocktail for only being aged 2.5 weeks.

This was perfectly paired with a refreshing and savory tuna tartare with avocado and a soy-lime dressing.

The second drink, and one of my favorites from the night, was the Bermuda Triangle.  Made with anise dark rum and Champagne ginger beer.  BLT makes their ginger beer in house using Champagne yeast, which gave it a somewhat different taste than other ginger beers I've tried.  The anise rum was a unique complement to the ginger beer giving it a slight licorice flavor, but it paired really nicely together. 

This was fun to drink with the next dish we were served; a broiled blue point oyster and a Parmesan baked scallop.

The last cocktail we tried was The Brooklyn.  Definitely a staff favorite, and a fun one to make.
This was made with rye whiskey, dry vermouth, and maraschino liquor.  All aged in a larger wood barrel for 5 weeks.  Steve added a burnt orange peel at the end to give it a touch of citrus, exactly what it needed.  A lovely drink that was round and smooth, but not too heavy.  Similar to a Manhattan and soft, unlike an original Brooklyn.
This was paired with a fantastic braised short rib grilled cheese sandwich you can find on their 5 for 5 happy hour menu.  Another perfect pairing with savory, sweet, and bitter flavors. 

Barrel aging cocktails is a really innovative new concept that is sweeping the bar scene, and BLT is at the forefront.  Thanks to everyone at BLT for putting on a delicious, fun, and very educational night.  
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