The Morris Rings In The Holidays With Ultra-Barrel-Aged Cocktail Tasting
by Jay Barmann
Fresh from getting some excellent press last month by way of landing on Esquire's Best New Restaurants list, The Morris is hosting its final class of the year in its Cellar Series, this time focusing on barrel-aged cocktails of a sort most cocktail geeks will have never tasted. Drinks maven, sommelier and owner Paul Einbund has been doing his own barrel-aging of several cocktails, a couple of which have been aging since long before The Morris's 2016 debut. At the final tasting class of the year, on December 16, he'll be giving guests a chance to sample several drinks which have been aging from between three months and six years.
For those unfamiliar, the barrel-aging of spirit-based cocktails has been a trend at trendier cocktail bars going back five years or so, popularized first in the US by Portland barman Jeffrey Morganthaler. The process is similar to the way wines and whiskeys are aged in oak casks, with different woods and/or different original uses of the casks (former sherry casks used for aging Scotch, for instance) imparting additional flavor and nuance to the final product. The difference is that you have a premixed combination of ingredients, like rye, vermouth, and bitters for a Manhattan, which then get a chance to age further in a new environment, often times smoothing out or significantly altering the resulting drink in surprising ways.
Most barrel-aging at bars, for reasons of pure economics, has tended to be for just a few months. At this Cellar Series event, Einbund will offer the chance to taste one drink that's been aging for three months, and then compare that with a cocktail that's been aged between one and two years, one that's aged for three years, and one that he's had stowed away in a barrel for six years -- proving that he was well ahead of the curve with this trend which didn't start becoming ubiquitous among American bartenders until late 2012 or so.
The hour-and-ten-minute class (3:30 to 4:40 p.m., just before service on Saturday the 16th) costs $100 per person and a limited number of seats are available by calling 415.612.8480 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The drink samples will be paired with bites from executive chef Gavin Schmidt.
For the curious who can't make it to the class, a limited amount of three of the barrel-aged cocktails will be available this holiday season at the bar, until they run out: the 3-month aged ($18), 1-2 year-aged ($30), and over 2 year-aged ($50).