Barrel aged Vesper Martini
The wonder of wood
The craft geeks Nicklas and Jeppe behind the bar at Helium love to play with the elements. For instance they do this by preparing cocktails through the means of barrel aging or sous-vide techniques which help spirit mature and flavors marry.
Of course we had to test their game in this field and try it out. A well-known classic is a good benchmark for testing – so we asked to try out their cask matured Vesper Martini (the James bond classic mentioned in Casino Royal).
Premix the ingredients and store them in the fridge. Stir with ice very shortly for a little dillusion and further chilling. Strain into a cocktail coupe. Recommended garnish: A lemon twist.
I know the Vesper Martini well and might not have expected much besides a familiar well balanced sip, but I must admit I was blown away when tasting Helium’s barrel aged version. It’s amazing how much the cocktail develops in the barrel!
It’s been aged in a 5 liter cask for 7-8 weeks. Nicklas has chosen a Plymouth Navy Strenght (57%) gin for the purpose as he wanted make a proper distinctive and spirit forward Vesper Martini. The Lillet Blanc is a French aperitif wine that ages 12 months in oak casks. In the small “re-aging” process of the cocktail a lot of the vanillin notes from the oak will open again and engage with the rest of the cocktail ingredients, making it more round and smooth on the palate.
In fact the barrel aging makes the cocktail so smooth that it doesn’t need much dillusion. To present these raw beautiful characteristics of the cocktail as unspoiled as possible, it is stored in the fridge for chilling and only stirred with ice shortly to avoid too much dillusion.
We tried the concoction before dilution and it tastes amazing as it is. The effects from the barrel stand out on the nose with vanilla, cinnamon along with other sweet spicy notes and end with peculiar nutty aromas such as chestnut and hazelnut.
In the mouth it really calls for your attention and linger on the tongue as the rich taste develops over time. And most notably it calls for the next sip!
Nicklas on barrel aging cocktails:
Barrel aging is widely used today. It has a beneficial effect on most spirits and can enhance many cocktails. Most classic cocktails without citrus and sugar are well suited for the purpose.
Barrel aging has become synonymous with quality but it does not necessarily result in a better cocktail. Only Cocktails, which are already well-made will benefit from being stored in barrels and only new or nearly new barrels, have a distinct effect. Barrel aging has a big impact on aroma, color and taste. The type of wood you use and the way it’s been processed make a big difference. So it is important to select wood which has been grown and processed organically without the use of chemicals and with a sense of craftsmanship.
Hear how to tips on barrel aging cocktails from Nicklas in this video by Cocktail Studio: