Barrel-aging was so big in 2011 that it popped up on some contrarians’ year-end lists of most-overdone trends in the dining and drinking world. Personally, I disagree. When done well, that round, woody quality imparted by leaving something to age a bit can really add depth and deliciousness to whatever you put in there and it can give a subtle twist to a classic recipe. The trendiness of house-aging spirits or whole cocktails has just made it possible for even smaller places to get in on a few tiny barrels behind the bar.
While Boundary Stone might not bill itself as a “cocktail place,” they nonetheless keep a very solid collection of spirits around. Normally I have a beer or bourbon when I am there, but I was intrigued when the specials chalkboard boasted of a barrel-aged Negroni made with Bluecoat gin – and was pleased when the brightly colored drink arrived. On the sweeter side for a Negroni, the five weeks spent in a miniature (read: quick-aging) barrel gave the drink a real cohesion and suppleness in the mouth. The oaky flavors hit almost immediately and provided a lovely counterpoint to the bitter Campari.
Due to the capacity of the small barrels, Boundary Stone makes only a limited batch of each aged cocktail at a time. Should you not catch this one, they have a vanilla-infused Manhattan coming out next and other experiments down the line – so keep an eye on the chalkboard for those.