Posted on Thursday 19 July 2012 by Ulster Business


Above: Chris Strong,Merchant Hotel Bar Manager

Belfast’s Merchant Hotel has today unveiled plans to create its own signature range of alcohol using aged oak barrels to develop a blend of aged gin, whiskey and a new twist on classic cocktails.

The barrels, imported from the USA by The Merchant’s award-winning Bar Manager Chris Strong, will be used to create innovative ‘barrel-aged’ twists on classic cocktails including the Negroni, Gin Martini and Manhattan.

The drinks are made through an ageing process where the base spirits of classic cocktails are flavoured in the barrels with a selection of vermouths and sherrys for up to four weeks to create the new flavours.

As well as creating a new take on classic cocktails, the barrels will also be used to create an aged blend of gin which will be totally exclusive to The Merchant Hotel.

Chris Strong, The Merchant Hotel Bar Manager, said: “This is something that’s totally unique to The Merchant and I’m really excited about the potential to create a whole new cocktail experience using our aged oak barrels.

“The barrels all have their own unique character, offering different tastes and textures to the base spirits that we’ll use to give some of our most popular cocktails a modern twist. We’re also using the barrels to help create Merchant signature gin and whiskey that is totally exclusive to The Merchant Hotel and we hope to be able to share this with our customers in the coming weeks.”

Petra Wolsey, Merchant Hotel Marketing Director, added: “Belfast’s cocktail culture is booming and we’re always working behind the scenes to create cutting-edge drinks for our customers.”

The process of creating the new drinks involves ageing the base spirit of classic cocktails such as gin, rum, tequila and whiskey in the barrels which are flavoured with different sherry and vermouth to give a totally new dimension to classic drinks.

The spirits are left to rest for a period of time depending on the desired flavour for certain drinks, and Chris and his team will continue to develop new flavours over the summer using the barrels, which can be seen behind the Cocktail Bar at The Merchant.


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