For those who are ready to take their cocktail fandom to the next level, The Nolen, a chic rooftop bar and lounge nestled atop Sixth Avenue, rolls out a new barrel aged cocktail club entitled The Subdivision Society.
Named for city planner John Nolen’s creation of a Mission Hills subdivision, the club kicks off with a barrel aged cocktail class from 2-3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 29. Thirsty attendees will learn how to mix up their choice of cocktail and place it in a barrel branded with their initials for aging. The signature barrels will be kept behind the bar, and Society club members can bring friends to drink the cocktail on future visits, with each barrel capable of eleven servings.
A barrel costs $250, which includes the class and cocktail. For those wanting to attend the class without the barrel, the cost is $40, which includes two cocktails and bites.
PACIFIC recently caught up with Erik Frank, bartender and creative mind behind the program, for an inside scoop.
PACIFIC How did the idea for a barrel-aged cocktail class and club spring up, did you have customers asking?
ERIK FRANK: Yes, there’s definitely been a lot of attention paid to our barrel cocktail program. Customers see the barrels behind the bar, and naturally ask questions about how the cocktails are made. I’ve been designing the concept for about four to five months.
How limited is the membership for The Subdivision Society?
Only 13 exclusive spots for the club, but there is the class, so anyone can sign up and come.
What are the best spirits for barrel aging?
It really ranges, there a lot of things you can do. The only spirit that wouldn’t barrel age is vodka. I’ve seen tequila, bourbon, gin and rum. With gin, you can definitely tell the biggest difference. For the Hanky Panky, a gin cocktail we serve here, the barrel adds a nice warmth to a lighter, brighter cocktail. When a cocktail comes together, all the flavors become more cohesive, like a pasta sauce tasting better the next day.
What kind of cocktails will you be aging in barrels?
For the class, I didn’t just want to have whiskey cocktails, so the selection is diverse. Of the three cocktails, two are classics, the Vieux Carre — from the Carousel Bar in New Orleans —with rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedectine, Peychaud's and Angostura bitters, and The Martinez — around for more than a century— with gin, Luxardo liqueur, sweet vermouth and orange bitters. Then I created a cocktail, The Subdivision Secret Stash with reposado tequila, blood orange liqueur, ginger liqueur, apricot liqueur and Peychaud's bitters.
How long should a cocktail age?
It really depends, anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months.
What are some no-no’s for barrel aging?
Don’t ever put juice (like lemon, lime, or pineapple) into the barrel. It will ruin the barrel and the cocktail. Don’t ever put shrubs in, because they contain vinegar, and it will act terribly in the barrel.
Always make sure it tastes good as a cocktail before you put it into the barrel.
453 Sixth Ave., downtown, 619.796.6536, thenolenrooftop.com