Negronis, Aged in Wood, at Zero Zero
Where: Zero Zero, 826 Folsom (at Fourth St.), 348-8800
When: Mon., Mar. 21, 5:30-10 p.m.
Cost: $6 per drink
The rundown: Barrel-aging cocktails is a concept currently finding appeal in bars around the world, and for good reason. Just as the character of a whiskey or a Cognac develops with time in oak, aging cocktails takes a familiar drink and changes it* ― like meeting your twin from a parallel universe, it's the same, yet very different. Barrel-aging of cocktails is a relatively new technique, refined by Portland, Ore., bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, whose experiments have intrigued fellow bartenders, since oak has the power to integrate and intensify flavors.
Zero Zero bar manager Joel Teitelbaum is celebrating his first attempt Monday, with an aged Negroni party featuring special guest bartender Erick Castro (formerly of Bourbon and Branch and Rickhouse) and light snacks (served early in the evening). At $6 a drink, it's a great value, and should be a fun way to experience the benefits a little extreme patience can produce.
*For Cognacs, whiskies, and other aged spirits, time in a semiporous barrel allows water and alcohol to evaporate out, concentrating the spirits and allowing "hotter"-tasting alcohols to escape while letting oxygen in. In wine, the slow oxidation in wood reduces astringency, helps red wine maintain its color, and develops fruit aromas. The wood itself contributes flavor like vanilla, coconut, and toast, but also the tannins that lend a richer mouth feel.