Make your own barrel-aged cocktails

So the observant drinkers among you may have noticed a new term popping up on drinks menus across the land: cask-aged. You’ve had vintage wines and aged whiskeys. But cocktails? Can imbibing a six-week old manhattan be at all good for you? Or tasty? Never fear we are here to figure out the trend for you.

How it works: A wooden barrel (cask) typically soaks up some of the whiskey, rum or tequila it holds during the often years-long aging process. Once the original spirit is drained and the cask is refilled with a new liquid, the retained flavors from the previous spirit marry with the new liquid in the cask. The end result: a more complex spirit, which takes on a slight change in color and/or flavor. This is referred to as a “cask-finished” or “cask-aged” product.

Distillers have been using this technique for decades with whiskeys being aged in casks that previously held port or sherry; rum aged in Bourbon casks; tequila aged in rum casks. More recently, a handful of savvy bartenders have co-opted cask-aging for cocktails. These vintage drinks can be found at places ranging from Fort Defiance in Brooklyn to the Girl and the Goat in Chicago and San Francisco’s Blackbird.

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