Barrel Aging is the process of using wood and time to change the flavor of a product placed within during maturation. The small or “mini” barrel has now become a fixture on many back bars.

Aging cocktails in barrels softens harsh edges, makes the drink richer, and can add new layers of flavor. Barrel aging cocktails is a relatively simple practice, but you can avoid hurdles if you follow a few simple steps. We look at how to do it well.

DO Choose Spirit-Heavy Cocktail Recipes

When deciding which cocktail to age, the best place to start is with the spirit-forward classics such as a Manhattan, Negroni or Boulevardier.

DON’T Choose a Recipe with Citrus

Steer clear of ingredients like citrus juices and other juices that aren’t shelf-stable, as well as sugar-syrups. These types of ingredients tend to separate during the process.

DO Use the Good Stuff

Barrel aging has a way of amplifying some of the great underlying flavors in a cocktail, so start with a quality spirit.

DO Choose the Right Size

Barrel size will help determine aging time, but the smaller the barrel the less aging needed. A good gauge is two weeks for 1-liter barrels, a month for a 3-liter and six weeks for a 5-liter. But there are no hard and fast rules, the drink is ready when your palate says.

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