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11 Wood-Aged Cocktails to Drink Before the Barrel Runs Dry

Like a fine wine...

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The technique of barrel-aging cocktails has been sprouting up throughout the city for quite some time now. The reasoning is quite simple: barrel aging allows each component of a cocktail to become more comfortable with each other, developing a more balanced flavor and silky mouthfeel. It doesn't hurt that just like wine, aging in oak barrels adds hints of smokiness, caramel, and spice to the cocktails that creates complexity and depth of flavor.

While popular barrel-aging contenders are often Negronis and Manhattans, and few bars around town are whipping up their own unique barrel-aged concoctions. Here now, a list of eleven barrel-aged cocktails, in no particular order:

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Negroni at The Tasting Kitchen

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Justin Pike has been perfecting the technique of barrel-aging cocktails for quite a few years now. Pike takes the basic components of a Negroni, sweet vermouth, Campari, and gin, and ages them together in a barrel for upwards of six weeks. The result is a more balanced mouthfeel, with less of the mouth-watering Campari taste drowning out the gin.

The Bijou at Sassafras

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Sassafras offers a selection of four barrel-aged cocktails that break away from the standard barrel-aged selections. The Bijou, composed of Plymouth Gin, Green Chartreuse, Noilly Prat Rouge, and orange bitters, utilizes a smoked barrel to add complexity to the unique libation.

Old Fashioned at The Corner Door

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Beau du Bois takes a standard Old Fashion recipe (bourbon, Angostura bitters, and sugar) and gives it the classic citrus note with a dash of orange bitters. The ingredients are aged together to create a rounded flavor.

The Contraband at Gracias Madre

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Although Gracias Madre is known for having one of the best tequila and mezcal programs in town, Beverage Director Jason Eisner is mixing it up with the restaurant's first-ever non-agave spirit-based cocktail that features his housemade barrel-aged moonshine gin. The house-aged liquor is utilized in Eisner’s Contraband cocktail alongside Mexican fernet and Italian sweet vermouth.

Vieux Carre at Melrose Umbrella Co

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One of Melrose Umbrella Co partner Zach Patterson’s favorite cocktails, the Vieux Carre takes an over-proofed rye, Rittenhouse 100, and blends it with Park Cognac, Angostura bitters, Peychauds bitters, sweet vermouth, and Benedictine. The libation is aged for exactly 8 weeks with constant tastings to assure just enough oak presence without overpowering the flavor.

Manhattan at BOA Steakhouse

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The BOA Barrel-Aged Manhattan takes Bulleit rye whiskey and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and ages them for four to six weeks in small American Oak casks. Once aged and bottled, the finished cocktail gets a few dashes of artisanal aromatic bitters, is stirred with ice, and is garnished with a Luxardo brandied cherry.

Boulevardier at Terrazza Lounge

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Located within Santa Monica’s Hotel Casa del Mar, Terrazza Lounge offers a variety of barrel-aged cocktails. The restaurant uses American white oak barrels and ages each cocktail for two to three weeks. Along with the classic Vieux Carre, Terrazza offers the Boulevardier, which is essentially a Negroni with the gin swapped out for rye whiskey. The smooth cocktail can be enjoyed while taking in sweeping views of the beach.

Negroni at Cecconi's

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As Negronis respond amazingly well to the barrel-aging process, Cecconi’s takes gin, vermouth, and Suze liqueur and ages the mixture together to achieve a silkier finish than the standard cocktail.

Manhattan at The Whisper Restaurant & Lounge

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Located within The Grove, The Whisper Restaurant and Lounge serves up classic American cuisine, which pairs well with a good ol’ Manhattan. The Whisper ages theirs in a 10-liter oak barrel with housemade bitters. The bitters recipe takes the quintessential ingredients of cassia bark, cloves, orange peel, cinnamon, and worms wood, and adds in grapefruit, peach, allspice, black pepper, and rosemary to bring out some of the oak’s warmer flavors.

No Mames Guey at Birch

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In a unique take on the Old Fashioned, this new restaurant from Brenden Collins makes a drink that replaces whiskey with Partida reposado tequila and barrel-ages the cocktail until balanced and smooth.

Negroni at Spago

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Spago offers a variety of barrel-aged cocktails from their Private Reserve, all aged six weeks in-house. Along with cocktails like the Boulevardier, Manhattan, and Sazerac, Spago offers a classic barrel-aged Negroni with Hendricks gin, Carpano Antica Formula, and Campari. [Photo: Andrea Bricco]

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Negroni at The Tasting Kitchen

Justin Pike has been perfecting the technique of barrel-aging cocktails for quite a few years now. Pike takes the basic components of a Negroni, sweet vermouth, Campari, and gin, and ages them together in a barrel for upwards of six weeks. The result is a more balanced mouthfeel, with less of the mouth-watering Campari taste drowning out the gin.

The Bijou at Sassafras

Sassafras offers a selection of four barrel-aged cocktails that break away from the standard barrel-aged selections. The Bijou, composed of Plymouth Gin, Green Chartreuse, Noilly Prat Rouge, and orange bitters, utilizes a smoked barrel to add complexity to the unique libation.

Old Fashioned at The Corner Door

Beau du Bois takes a standard Old Fashion recipe (bourbon, Angostura bitters, and sugar) and gives it the classic citrus note with a dash of orange bitters. The ingredients are aged together to create a rounded flavor.

The Contraband at Gracias Madre

Although Gracias Madre is known for having one of the best tequila and mezcal programs in town, Beverage Director Jason Eisner is mixing it up with the restaurant's first-ever non-agave spirit-based cocktail that features his housemade barrel-aged moonshine gin. The house-aged liquor is utilized in Eisner’s Contraband cocktail alongside Mexican fernet and Italian sweet vermouth.

Vieux Carre at Melrose Umbrella Co

One of Melrose Umbrella Co partner Zach Patterson’s favorite cocktails, the Vieux Carre takes an over-proofed rye, Rittenhouse 100, and blends it with Park Cognac, Angostura bitters, Peychauds bitters, sweet vermouth, and Benedictine. The libation is aged for exactly 8 weeks with constant tastings to assure just enough oak presence without overpowering the flavor.

Manhattan at BOA Steakhouse

The BOA Barrel-Aged Manhattan takes Bulleit rye whiskey and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and ages them for four to six weeks in small American Oak casks. Once aged and bottled, the finished cocktail gets a few dashes of artisanal aromatic bitters, is stirred with ice, and is garnished with a Luxardo brandied cherry.

Boulevardier at Terrazza Lounge

Located within Santa Monica’s Hotel Casa del Mar, Terrazza Lounge offers a variety of barrel-aged cocktails. The restaurant uses American white oak barrels and ages each cocktail for two to three weeks. Along with the classic Vieux Carre, Terrazza offers the Boulevardier, which is essentially a Negroni with the gin swapped out for rye whiskey. The smooth cocktail can be enjoyed while taking in sweeping views of the beach.

Negroni at Cecconi's

As Negronis respond amazingly well to the barrel-aging process, Cecconi’s takes gin, vermouth, and Suze liqueur and ages the mixture together to achieve a silkier finish than the standard cocktail.

Manhattan at The Whisper Restaurant & Lounge

Located within The Grove, The Whisper Restaurant and Lounge serves up classic American cuisine, which pairs well with a good ol’ Manhattan. The Whisper ages theirs in a 10-liter oak barrel with housemade bitters. The bitters recipe takes the quintessential ingredients of cassia bark, cloves, orange peel, cinnamon, and worms wood, and adds in grapefruit, peach, allspice, black pepper, and rosemary to bring out some of the oak’s warmer flavors.

No Mames Guey at Birch

In a unique take on the Old Fashioned, this new restaurant from Brenden Collins makes a drink that replaces whiskey with Partida reposado tequila and barrel-ages the cocktail until balanced and smooth.

Negroni at Spago

Spago offers a variety of barrel-aged cocktails from their Private Reserve, all aged six weeks in-house. Along with cocktails like the Boulevardier, Manhattan, and Sazerac, Spago offers a classic barrel-aged Negroni with Hendricks gin, Carpano Antica Formula, and Campari. [Photo: Andrea Bricco]

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