Charles Redmond is maître’d/sommelier/mixologist at Orchids at Palm Court in Cincinnati, OH.
I love bitters, amaros, and digestifs—I can’t get enough of them. So as the temperature is warming up, I have been enjoying a springtime twist on the classic bitter cocktail, the Negroni, and lightened it up to make the Barrel-Aged White Negroni.
The drink uses Lillet Blanc instead of sweet vermouth to add a touch of sweetness and a distinctive floral element. Suze, a gentian-based French bitter liqueur, stand in for Campari to add herbaceousness, a bitter base note and complexity.
I use Watershed Four Peel Gin, a small craft distiller out of Columbus, OH. The gin’s aromatics are more driven by citrus rather than juniper, which I find very refreshing.
All these ingredients are combined in a five-gallon used-bourbon barrel for 30 days until the components meld together. A bit of the bitterness is rounded out, the floral component of the Lillet takes on a bit of a dried quality and there is just a touch of vanilla from the oak. It is an absolutely perfect as an aperitif or just to enjoy relaxing on the porch after a long day.
1 ¼ oz. Lillet Blanc
1 ¼ oz. Suze gentian liqueur
1 ¼ oz. Watershed Four Peel Gin
Combine equal parts of each ingredient and pour into a five-gallon used-bourbon barrel. Let age for 20 to 30 days, tasting occasionally, until ready. Pour over ice and stir until properly chilled. Strain into a Martini glass and garnish with an orange peel.