Barrel-aged cocktails have had their fun in the sun, but it’s time to get serious.
The unstoppable Josh Harris and Scott Baird, of The Bon Vivants, recently stopped by the Hair of the Dog “office” to share with us the future of aged cocktails. “The future isn’t actually a look forward,” said Baird. “Instead it’s a look far, far, FAR back into the depths of our earth’s history.”
Indeed, it turns out that Harris and Baird, the cocktail forerunners that they are, started aging around 1,000 gallons of negronis, Manhattans, and mezcal-based Last Words in stalagmites located in caves in the Sierras about 30 years ago. “Yes, that does mean we were doing this before we turned 10,” admitted Harris, shrugging. “What can I say? We knew our career trajectory before middle school.”
The pair allegedly snuck into the caves as boys, drilled holes in several stalagmites, and poured in the cocktail mixtures. Apparently, the cave growths are water-tight, because neither Baird nor Harris reported much of a loss in volume. “We got a 90% yield on the negronis, 92% on the Last Words, and 82% on the Manhattans,” said Baird. Why so much lower on the Manhattans? “We may or may not have sampled that one as it progressed…” added Baird, trailing off.
These cave-aged cocktails are now ready for their debut at a few select San Francisco bars. For the first two weeks, they will only be available at Trick Dog, The Bon Vivant’s 20th Street darling, between the hours of midnight and 1 am. After that, Harris and Baird will release a few precious bottles to yet-unnamed locations around town. “We want to spread the love, but we also want to make sure that the people drinking these drinks really understand what they’re drinking,” explained Baird. “We can’t have just any Bud-drinking bro waste a negroni or two.”
For this reason the pair is sending scouts to 10-15 bars in the Mission, Bernal, North Beach, and SoMa to get a sense of the clientle. In addition, they will be releasing a list of guidelines to distribute with the cave-aged cocktails to help bartenders determine who is worthy to taste the drinks. “We don’t want to say that we’re profiling, exactly,” said Harris. “Instead, we like to think of this step as high-level consulting on the part of our cocktails.”
Whatever the method, we can only hope that we’ll be deemed worthy.