Bartenders and distillers are barrel aging everything these days, from gin to cocktails—but barrel-aged vodka is still fairly rare. And that alone was enough reason for Two mixologist Graham Crowe and Chicago Distilling Company owner Jay DiPrizio to want to make one. They collaborated in late January to fill a used whiskey barrel—from the distillery’s in-the-works malt whiskey program—with their Ceres vodka. About six weeks of barrel aging smoothed and mellowed the vodka, giving it a pale gold color and faint notes of chocolate, caramel, and oak, with a sweet spiciness. Jay DiPrizio says that vodka isn’t among his favorite spirits, and he rarely drinks it outside the distillery. “Before I tasted [the barrel-aged version], I was skeptical,” he says. “But I actually really enjoyed it. It reminded me of a small category, mostly unknown, called light whiskey. It’s a blend of spirits that has at least 5 percent whiskey.” The label for the vodka hasn’t yet been approved, so Crowe and DiPrizio can’t reveal its name. But it’s been on the cocktail menu at Two for a couple months now, currently in a Negroni-Boulevardier hybrid called the Logan2 Blvd, a combination of the barrel-aged vodka, Luxardo Aperitivo, Carpano Bianco vermouth, and grapefruit bitters.
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