The infatuation with the barrel and barrel-aging continues and it is spread into the hot sauce arena. The Smithsonian highlighted the 2013 prediction that barrel-aged hot sauce would be this year's breakout condiment. In that article, Denver's own Vesta Dipping Grill gets the spotlight. According to the article, in 2009 the restaurant purchased an eight-gallon charred whiskey oak barrel to add some smoky flavor to the house-made sauces. In 2012, two more barrels were added and now sit in the restaurant's basement, allowing the chiles to age and absorb wood tannins and hints of whiskey.
Bartenders across the country and in Denver have been experimenting with barrel-aging cocktails and the cocktail programs at the Green Russell, Gaetano's, and Colt & Gray feature such drinks. Outside of the cocktail world, Chef Jared Brant of Phat Thai in Cherry Creek has been experimenting with barrel-aging fish sauce.
Vesta Dipping Grill [Photo: Adam Larkey]