DRINK OF THE WEEK: Blush’s Barrel-Aged Manhattan


Roll out the barrel! We’ll have a barrel of fun! Or at least a barrel of bourbon!

Aging your own bourbon is all the rage these days, as we’ve seen at least three barrels in various locations around town. But as we were stopping by Blush Restaurant & Lounge, we got the scoop from them first.

Bar manager Chris Jow (pronounced “Joe,” but as he explained, the guy at Ellis Island all those generations ago couldn’t spell “Joh”) told us all about it. Their supplier buys the barrels, but you can also buy them on sites like 1000oaksbarrel.com. The idea is to build a cocktail inside the barrel, let it sit for two weeks, then bottle the results, which are oaky and peculiar in a good, woody way. Trouble is, Blush can barely keep the stuff on the shelf. When we turned up, there was only about one glass left and we had it.

Mr. Jow recreates a roughly three-to-one ratio of bourbon to vermouth for the Manhattan in the barrel, and the results are sweet, smoky and pretty much like a fine Manhattan with an extra something or other. Plus, we got three Luxardo cherries to fight over. Good man!

You don’t have to make a cocktail in your barrel. You could just add bourbon, sit back and let it age. But the cocktail is fun and the drinking gratification is a bonus. Let us know how you fare. In the meantime, it’s our Drink of the Week.

1 (750-ml) bottle bourbon (preferably Buffalo Trace)
1 cup red vermouth (preferably Carpano Antica)
1/2 cup Maraschino liqueur (preferably Luxardo)
1 teaspoon bitters (preferably Peychaud’s)
1 teaspoon orange bitters (preferably Regans’)

In 1-liter oak barrel, combine all ingredients. Let sit for 2 weeks, then bottle. Serve drink over ice.

Yield: 10-12 drinks

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