It was after visiting a New York bar that specialised in barrel-aged Negronis, that Al White started to consider how to create his own version back home. Now, the Negroni-enthusiast and his wife, Lisa, have launched Bariletto, a new, local drinks company that offers by-the-bottle, or by-the-barrel Negronis made from their own, original recipe and aged to perfection in specialty barrels.
As Lisa White tells me, the process to get Bariletto’s offering right, was painstaking. “We were gifted a small oak barrel which, over a few years was our constant companion on holidays and at dinner parties,” White explains, “we tested many different combinations of premium gin, sweet vermouth and, of course, Campari, before settling on the optimal blend that worked for our ageing process.” Bariletto’s barrels were also a journey to find, with White telling me that they eventually landed on handmade barrels by expert coopers in an Eastern European village (who had been crafting barrels since 1932) and that as a result, no two are the same.
And while some might bristle at the idea of altering such a classic drink, in reality, barrel-ageing actually brings a lot to the Negroni’s already-powerful nature, offering a rich, opulent quality that adds to the cocktail’s depth. “To ensure the contents don’t get over-oaked, our oak barrels take a long time to prepare before we put the Negroni in,” White explains, “they all have a heavy char that works to give the Negronis delicious smokey notes and hints of vanilla… it also makes the Negronis ever-so-slightly syrupy and a lot smoother on the palate.”
Alongside selling bottles of its aged Negroni, Bariletto also offers five- and ten-litre oak barrels for those seeking something a little more involved. Not only do these barrels get better with age (allowing you to experience their flavour changes over time) but Bariletto also offers re-fills of pre-aged Negroni by the litre, making it a more economical option for those who typically opt for a Negroni as their drink of choice.
So whether you already love Negronis or are someone who is wanting to try something new, Bariletto’s unique offering is a must-try. Its barrels also make the perfect gift for someone who might be harder to buy for. “Our Negroni has turned many a non-Negroni drinker into a Negroni-lover,” White tells me, “and so far, we’ve had amazing feedback… these drinks really are something special.” Having sipped on a glass of the good stuff myself, I have to agree.