Last week we were in San Jose for work and spent an evening walking around Los Gatos. We’d heard that a restaurant there called Manresa had been named the 100th best restaurant in the world, so we stopped by just to check it out. It turned out that they offer a Bar Bites menu, which is an abbreviated, less expensive version of their tasting menu…and they had two seats open at the bar. We really liked the food, but that’s a topic for a different blog. The highlight from a cocktail perspective was a barrel-aged Martinez, which inspired us to see if we could make our own barrel-aged cocktail when we got home.
At Sur La Table we found a barrel-aged cocktail kit, which is essentially two charred oak staves and a piece of cheese cloth (shown below). We made a batch of our Negroni cocktail and aged it in a bottle with one of the staves for seven days. It ended up tasting woodier, more complex, and slightly sweeter and smoother — definitely a different cocktail than the regular Negroni. We’ve also ordered a small oak barrel so we can make real barrel-aged cocktails; stay tuned for the results.