Chef Bruce and his team develop innovative menus that satisfy even the pickiest of holiday diners. Not to be outdone, the Terraza Garden Patio & Lounge mixology team step up our holiday drink menu offerings too. We blend traditional favorites like hot buttered rum, egg nog, mulled wine and Tom & Jerry to create new seasonal cocktails.
This year we are doing something new and incredibly exciting: house-made, barrel-aged cocktails. We were able to track down six new, oak barrels earlier this year. Our lead bartender, Jaime Telles, cleaned and seasoned the barrels by soaking and rinsing them with water over the course of 10 days. This process is essential to prepare an untreated barrel and you would be shocked at how dark the water is on the initial rinse. After four rinses, complete submersion, and sulfur tablet treatment, the barrels were ready to be filled.
We decided to use the barrels to create two unique drinks that will be available on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve only. The first is a traditional Manhattan made with Dickel Bourbon, Carpano Antiqua Red Sweet Vermouth, and bitters. We chose Dickel because of its light oak profile. If we were to use a heavily oaked bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark 46, the additional oak aging might result in an over oaked and out-of-balance drink. Carpano Antica Vermouth is considered to be the finest, most complex Vermouth made. It hails from Turin, Italy and has remained unchanged since 1786.
Each barrel holds one-and-a-half gallons so we made a three gallon batch of the Manhattans and filled two barrels. (Now three gallons may seem like a lot, but it’s only about 90 four ounce drinks. During the holiday season, we serve over 1,000 guests per day!) Every few weeks we crack the barrels to ensure things are progressing nicely.
The second cocktail is the Classic Nigroni – made with equal parts Compari, Red Vermouth, and Gin. We chose to use Nolet’s gin, distilled in Holland. It is a classic gin with fresh raspberry, white peach, and rose. There seemed no other choice but to select Carpano Antica, and of course Compari Vermouth. Again we batched three gallons of this and poured it into the seasoned barrels.
Barrel aging the cocktails results in a mellow, smooth libation that integrates nuances of flavor while adding complexity. There’s nothing quite like it.
Brandon Hanson developed a fun and tasty twist to the classic drink, the “Manhattan Goes Bananas.” It's a traditional Manhattan made with Canadian Club 100% Rye and Dolin White vermouth infused with dried banana for several weeks. I must admit, I was skeptical at first but just one sip and we all declared the Manhattan Goes Bananas a winner.
Lastly we round out the holiday themed selections with the “Breakfast of Champions”– a tantalizing mix of Belvedere Pink Grapefruit vodka, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and Bitterman’s Charred Pink Grapefruit Tonic. This cocktail is tart and refreshing with the unmistakable tang of fresh pink grapefruit.
As much fun as it is to talk about these drinks, it's much more fun to actually try the real thing. So you might just want to consider visiting the Terraza Garden Patio & Lounge this holiday season to taste for yourself and perhaps find a new favorite Cocktail!