One of the main reasons I started A Bar Above was not just to educate others, but to experiment with new things. Today marks our first true “experimentation” post!
I’ve been running a barrel-aged cocktail program at my work for about two years now, so I’ve rinsed out quite a few barrels. At some point I began to wonder – what would happen if we left the rinse-water in the barrel to age, then used that to make ice? Let’s find out!
Our Experiment with Barrel-Aged Ice:
How’d We Do it?
First, we started with a barrel that we’d used in the past for barrel-aging cocktails. This part isn’t absolutely necessary, but if you were starting with a fresh barrel I would definitely expect different results.
- Fill the barrel with water and let it age for 10-14 days (Here’s a similar barrel, if you’re looking for one – Affiliate link)
- Empty the barrel into a pot and boil the water over the stove (for safety reasons)
- Put cooled water into an ice tray and freeze
The first thing I noticed was just how much faster the barrel-aged ice melted than normal ice. This is almost certainly due to the alcohol which’d been in the barrel prior, and had how seeped into the water we’d frozen. We also noticed a really interesting crystallization pattern in the ice, which is also likely due to alcohol’s much lower freezing temperature.
Not so surprising was the color difference. The “aged” water definitely took on some of the color of the bourbon which’d previously been in this barrel.
In a Cocktail:
Since the barrel-aged ice melts so quickly, you’ll definitely want to take that into consideration when building your cocktail.
- I would not recommend shaking a cocktail with this ice, as it would likely melt much too fast
- Would work well for stirred drinks, but you may not want to stir as long as you would with “normal” ice.
- The ice definitely imparted a bourbon flavor into the drink, thanks to the cocktail we’d previously aged in the barrel. I was surprised quite how strong this flavor was – definitely more than I expected.
So there you have it!
I was really surprised at what a dramatic difference the ice had on the drink. Though the fact that it melted so much quicker than “normal” ice also meant that more of the barrel-aged water got into the cocktail itself. By the way, this is where we buy our Oak Barrels for aging cocktails (and now water!)
Thanks for joining us for this week’s video! I’d love to hear your thoughts on how barrel-aged ice (or water) could be used in other cocktails. Comment here or on our Facebook page! Let us know what you think!