Three years ago, Bethany Blues mixologist Ryan Minnick started working on infusing liquor through a unique process called barrel aging, using small replicas of the larger oak barrels that Sagamore Spirits uses to contain its whiskey as it ages.
The process produces whiskey cocktails that pack a ton of flavor in a single pour, using a variety of ingredients from fruits to smoky bacon.
Minnick will present his first barrel-aging class from 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 18, at Bethany Blues of Lewes.
“I’m going to provide a plethora of ingredients including liqueurs, bitters, herbs, spices and fruits. Everyone will be able to choose ingredients to express themselves in cocktail form,” said Minnick.
Choosing the flavors to combine to get unique cocktails is a creative process of self-expression, he said, and the possibilities are pretty endless. He has made all kinds of cocktails, from floral infusions that are punctuated with citrus and sweetness to his latest concoction, the Hound Dog, which incorporates all the flavors of Elvis’ favorite sandwich: peanut butter, banana and bacon.
“This one was a process where I roasted pecans, almonds, and walnuts. I left them for about two weeks in the rye whiskey, strained it, and then I took homemade candied bacon from the smoker at Blues and let it sit to collect flavor. From there I used banana chips to infuse with the sugars and flavors. Then I threw it on a drip system and strained out all the fat content,” he said. The resulting drink is a power-packed flavor combo.
Everyone in the class will have the opportunity to build flavors that speak to their palates. Each participant will be given a bottle of Sagamore Spirit, and a 1-liter, white-oak charred barrel, which is a replica of the company’s larger whiskey barrels. Minnick will be soaking the barrels properly for everyone to ensure the aging process goes accordingly. Because of the nature of the infusion process, where the flavor from the ingredients is imparted into the whiskey, everyone will be mixing in large glass containers, which Minnick will allow to sit, and then he will strain the contents into the barrels on the proper timeline.
After the ingredients have aged and sat long enough, he will remove the fruit and herb sediment, and strain the cocktail into the barrel. The custom cocktails will be ready to drink when they are picked up, but can also continue to be aged while they sit in the barrels.
Tickets are $65 and include everything needed to make a unique barrel-aged cocktail. Space is limited for this experience. To reserve a spot, email Nicole Giannella at firstname.lastname@example.org.