Behind the bar at Wanakah Country Club (WCC) in Hamburg, N.Y., three WCC-branded barrels are always on display. Inside each of these barrels is a different variation of the classic Manhattan cocktail.
Why bother aging a cocktail? For flavor, explains Jeffrey S. Kolbas, WCC’s Executive Chef. “The spirit picks up some of the oak characteristics from the barrel, while also mellowing out the drink,” he says.
WCC typically uses a ratio of three bottles of whiskey (ranging from Beam to Bulleit to Buffalo Trace—and everything in between) to one bottle of liqueur, plus a half bottle of bitters that range in flavor, depending on the other elements in the drink.
The Manhattans are aged in small, WCC-branded, American white oak barrels that are held in the club’s wine cellar for three to four weeks. Once matured, the club displays the barrel at the bar (see photo, opposite), with a sign detailing its makeup.
“Anyone can make a Manhattan,” says Kolbas. “But by aging them, we’re going the extra mile to make ours unique.”
Plus, service couldn’t be simpler. WCC bartenders simply ice a rocks glass, turn the spigot and garnish.
“Members talk about our Manhattans all the time now,” says Kolbas. “So much so that we’ve begun offering them as a signature drink for weddings, too.”
View recipe for Barrel-Aged Manhattans here.