Bar manager Alex Bachman's delicious, spirit-forward rendition of an Old Fashioned features a house-made barrel-aged stone fruit bitters. Bachman emphasizes the importance of aging the bitters in a used American oak barrel, which can be difficult to source. He either uses seasoned casks from Willett or the distillery's smaller 20-liter new oak barrels, which he then seasons with grain neutral spirit to remove primary wood tannin. Do not use new oak, he notes, as the wood tannins will overwhelm subtler flavors.
The aging process changes with what size barrels you use, but the general rule is that the smaller the barrel, the faster the aging will progress. It should be done to taste, but six weeks at a minimum in old wood is a good rule of thumb. You are looking for wood flavor to accent the compounds that are already macerated in the spirit: vanilla, brown butter, molasses, mulling spices, etc. Home users should consult Tuthilltown Spirits, which sells used 8-liter oak barrels.
- For the Barrel-aged Stone Fruit Bitters
- 1 pound dried plums
- 1 pound dried apricots
- 1 pound dried peaches
- 2 ounces quassia bark
- 1/2 ounce wild cherry bark
- 1/2 ounce fresh orange peel
- 1/4 ounce betel nut
- 1/10 ounce tansy
- 1/4 ounce Chinese rhubarb
- 2 gallons high-proof neutral grain spirit
- For Palm Sugar Syrup
- 6 ounces water
- 6 ounces coconut palm sugar
- For Cocktail
- 2 ounces Redemption Rye
- 1 ounce Cardamaro
- 1/4 ounce palm sugar syrup
- 4 to 5 dashes barrel-aged stone fruit bitters
- Lemon twist
To make bitters, co-macerate all bitters ingredients in large glass vessel for 15 days. Strain out and pour liquid into a used American oak barrel. Age contents for six weeks. Strain and bottle.
To make palm sugar syrup, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring to make sure sugar dissolves. Let cool.
To make cocktail, add rye, Cardamaro, palm sugar syrup, and bitters into mixing glass with four large ice cubes and stir around 40 times. Strain into 10-ounce rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon twist.
Saucepan, used American oak barrel, large glass container (at least 2-gallon capacity)