After a long week in Durham, I decided to stop by Richmond on the way back to DC to break up the drive. I had a chance to meet up with my buddy Chef John Maher, of the upcoming The Rogue Gentlemen for a little day drinking. Aside from catching up and enjoying a Fernet-Branca laced pit stop, Chef Maher also brought me something very special: a Barrel Aged Boulevardier he crafted for his coming soon speakeasy/restaurant.
Things are moving along and it sounds like the guys are hoping for an October opening. In the meantime, they’ve been experimenting with cocktails for the menu. You might remember a post a little while back on the Rogue Manhattan. If not, you owe it to yourself to learn more about this spectacular take on a true classic.
To make the BOULEVARDIER, Chef Maher used Jefferson’s Bourbon, Carpano Antica and Campari. He then aged it in a used oak barrel from Reservoir Distillery for about 3 weeks (23 days to be exact). His weekly commentary along the way described the process of the Boulevardier becoming smoother, richer and more mature. Naturally, I was salivating as in case you couldn’t tell, the Boulevardier is quite possibly my all time favorite cocktail.
After a day of anticipation/buying an orange (for the flamed twist), I finally broke out my TRG medicine bottle encased gift… Damn this thing was good. I know I’ve been getting carried away with the pics, but the contents deserve some serious attention. Admire the color and the little specks of barrel floating in the glass, signs that this is for sure the real deal.
A dash of smoke overlays bitter orange, oak and accents of leather. The aged boulevardier has a much smoother taste. Instead of being able to pick out the individual ingredients, the taste is polished, blended and more mature. The bitter of the Campari is now more subdued, while it’s orange and almost smokey aspects are harmoniously blended with the sweet of the vermouth and bourbon. Somehow it tastes more coherent, yet more complex at the same time, while becoming incredibly smooth on the tongue. Accents of orange, charred oak, light whiskey, leather and the slightest hint of quinine. The finish lingers with an earthen, woodsy flavor, which is just barely bittered. Overall the smoothest boulevardier I’ve ever tasted. Good things come with age.
While the Rogue MANHATTAN takes the cake as quite possibly the most unique (and arguably best) Manhattan I’ve tried, the TRG Barrel Aged Boulevardier fills a much different role. This is not your typical Boulevardier with some riffs to make it “special,” but rather a well thought out and thoroughly matured classic cocktail that stays true to its roots, fitting a different desire and genre than your everyday cocktail.
While barrel aging everything seems to be all the rage these days, Chef Maher and crew do it right and knock this one out of the park. The Rogue Gentlemen opens this fall. Be prepared.
- Smoke in the Woods (drinkstraightup.com)
- Mid-Summer Fever – Prescription: The Boulevardier (southernspeakeasy.wordpress.com)
- 3 New Whisk(e)ys We Love Right Now (drinks.seriouseats.com)
- Summer in the Old Square (drinkstraightup.com)
- Barrel Aged Manhattan (urbanfoodguy.com)
- Barrel Aged Cocktails (marlonhall.wordpress.com)
- Is Barrel Aged Gin a Good Idea? (drinks.seriouseats.com)