Friday, July 15, 2011

Mixology has finally jumped the shark...

I refer to myself as a bartender, never as a "mixologist," because if you sit across from me in the bar, I'm generally more interested in you than in your drink's garnish.

I'm always happy to place a fresh orange slice and a cherry in your whiskey sour, maybe even muddle a mojito for you, even though I know the only reason you're drinking it is because all the beautiful people are drinking it. But if you're looking for bugs in your drinks (on purpose) you and I are very different people...

And here's another "too much is never enough" trend that I predict will last as long as it takes for the recession to end and for the folks promoting this idea to get real jobs: barrel aging cocktails. It's not nearly as bad as the bug-garnish stunt above, which we all know is just a blatant pitch for a short filler segment on the Food Channel, and does has a quasi-legitimate ring to it, but, well, you judge for yourself...

If you'll pardon my cynicism for a moment - a Manhattan is a cocktail that is made from about 90 to 95% rye whiskey or bourbon, either of which has already generally spent  four to six years or more in barrels (and in the case of bourbon, in charred barrels). I'm not sure what the extra few weeks or months on wood are supposed to accomplish here, except to oxidize the vermouth, which, in my opinion, is just taking a generally foul tasting fortified wine and making it taste that much worse (and likely charging the customer a nice premium for the pleasure...).

And now we're barrel aging Negronis?  A negroni is one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, and one part Campari. All three ingredients have been steadily dropping like a stone in popularity for the last 30 years, with the possible exception of gin, which is showing a slight uptick recently due to the introduction of several high-profile, boutique brands. I understand the argument that gin takes to barrel aging better than vodka, but my feeling is that if this was such a great idea, the British or Dutch would have started doing this three hundred years ago, when the had easy access to gin, barrels and fire (should there be a need to char the barrels). Besides, negronis taste like crap, and a barrel-aged negroni can only taste like woody, oxidized crap.

These people disagree: Barrel Aged CocktailsBarrel Aged Negronis, Barrel-Aged Cocktails: These Are A Thing Now

More on barrel-aging cocktails: Coming of Age

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