Project Barrel Aging … a new attempt and the Martinez

by KeithP on July 31, 2010

Wow … our little barrel has come a long way in a relatively short period of time.  You’ll recall that we cut short our last effort at barrel aging due to some severe leakage issues.  We yanked out the mix, bottled, and have since consumed about a quarter of the effort — while also rushing our baby to the ER in hopes of saving its little life.

Thanks to Sean and the team at Copper Fox Distillery for providing guidance on resuscitating the little guy (I must also say that when I spoke to Sean he was more than kind/courteous/helpful in offering to fully replace the barrel) and after a period of testing with water the barrel seems ready to go.

After all that effort what to do by way of a recipe choice?  Given the make up of the ingredients in the Chocolate Martica I wanted to try something that was comprised of non-aged (or at least very minor aging) ingredients.  Hhhhmmm … the El Presidente?  The drink was interesting when I last tried it, wasn’t wowed by it, but maybe the aging process could change that?  It was at this point that I did what I usually do in such moments of drink indecision … went out and acquired a bunch of new ingredients (by this spirits that I have either never tasted or purchased before) for a little inspiration and experimentation.  Never a fan of the Negroni, I tested several recipe variations from the classic 1:1:1 ratio to my new favorite recipe using one and half ounces of gin to three quarters ounces each of Campari and Carpano and discovered that this drink is really nice.  How about the Trident? Having acquired Aquavit and Cynar I mixed one up and man-o-man-o-man is this a cup of something nice.  Ok, maybe I found my subject.

Not so fast bucko! Upon skimming my prior barrel aging notes I saw a comment about possible next test subjects and out popped and old familiar name … the Martinez.  This classic drink I am afraid to say is one that I make frequently but incorrectly.  Never possessing Old Tom gin for lack of trying to purchase it I usually made due with a London dry gin spritzed with some simple syrup.  After slapping myself around and given said new ingredient acquisition program noted above theSpeakista now had a brand new bottle of Ransom Old Tom in his grubby little fingers and set about to mix up a test.  Recollection of Rick’s Martinez comparison yielded my new formulation (the Jamie Boudreau version) and upon sipping discovered that while you should never regret past decisions I regretted never doing this drink correctly. This drink, when properly made, is a work of art … gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino and bitters are in harmony producing a drink that is floral, botanical, slightly sweet and slightly bitter all at the same time. LOVELY.  Not only have I found a new drink friend to return to over and over again but we also found the drink to use for our next test subject.

Note: for purposes of future tracking the drink was pre-batched and put into the barrel on Friday July 30th.

Recipe used and adapted based on the one sourced from Kaiser Penguin and Spirits and Cocktails (recipe scaled for Project Barrel Aging)

•    2 cups + 2 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
•    2 cups + 2 oz Carpano Antica vermouth
•    4 oz Luxardo Maraschino
•    20 dashes of Regan’s Orange bitters

Assembly: Poured all ingredients into the barrel, said a little prayer to the Anti-Leak God and sealed her up. Fingers are crossed.

The plan: Keep her sealed up and do my best to not check for an entire month. At that point pull out a small sample and test … if in good shape determine if we should proceed and then check every two weeks.

Expectations: Was some what torn on this drink, in terms of making, in part because I have selected another drink that prior to aging is already lush in its own right.  My expectations would be for the bitters to mellow and the mix to gradually become sweeter.

So here we go … we’ll check back in a month.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cynthia January 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm

I enjoyed reading this and am so curious as to the results! A Martinez is my favorite cocktail (and I do use Ransom Old Tom) and most bars/restaurants do not make them to my expectations. Please post an update or if you have already done so, point me in the right direction!

KeithP January 9, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Hi Cynthia, my re-cap on the barrel aged Martinez is here (; it tastes wonderful. I use a mix that is more equal amount of the Old Tom and vermouth to pretty good results, I think.

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