I’m not sure how it all started, but over the past years Dub and I got more and more into cocktails. Classic cocktails. It’s especially the bitter, strong ones we end up sipping with my favourite ingredient being Campari (and I sure know where the love for the bitter red stuff stems from…).
With the wedding around the corner, Dub found the perfect occasion to experiment with one of his current favourite cocktails: Negroni (lucky for me Campari plays an important role in a Negroni). He got a keg, a real one, a real mini one. Being as he is, he probably did quite some research and found an awesome 5l „used“ bourbon barrel. It was pretty fun seeing how excited he was when the barrel arrived, but then sad when he realised the alcohol hadn’t yet.
Dub made the Negroni using 1 part Campari, 1 part Plymouth gin and 1 part Antica Formula sweet vermouth. Premix, funnel into the slightly water presoaked keg and finish off with Angostura orange bitters. It should have been around 110 drops, but who manages to exactly count something like that?!
Despite watering the keg in advance it leaked a tiny bit, but apparently that’s normal. After seeing the first bit of leakage I ordered it be placed in some sort of tub so the basement wouldn’t experience a Negroni flood. Not a single drop hit the tub.
We had a tasting after 4 weeks, then let it mature in the keg for a 5th week before bottling the drink. I found it took on quite a bit of extra oak flavour in that last week.
We had been worried that our wedding guests would be excited to try our homemade cocktail and then realise it wasn’t one of those watered down punch drinks German bars market as „cocktail“. I guess we didn’t consider our guests’ tastes well enough: they sipped away 3 full litres.
Dub’s Barrel-aged Negroni
makes one 5-litre keg
1.6 l Campari
1.6 l Plymouth dry gin
1.6 l Antica Formula sweet vermouth
110ish drops of Angostura orange bitters
Stir the alcohol together in a measuring cup or a big bowl and funnel into a 5l oak barrel (we used barrels made from original Bourbon staves). There might be instructions with your keg to water it for a few minutes before filling in the cocktail. Though it may not prevent leakage 100% it definitely reduces the amount of cocktails the soaks into the wood. Leave the cocktail to age for 4-6 weeks. It will take on a more oaky flavour the longer it’s aged. Try it after 4 weeks to see whether you’d like it to age any longer.
For serving stir on ice in a rocks glass.