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Wolfgang Bogner, bar chef of the ONYX bar at the Park Hyatt Zurich, presented the old tradition of and invited to mix a ’Barrel-Aged Cocktail’. This specific cocktail speciality is new to Onyx and distinguishes its outstanding quality.

The ’Bar of the Year’-awarded Onyx appears in a new gloss with modern furniture, thought-through materials and playful, visual elements thanks to the renowned interior achitect Janice Clausen. Amongst the bar’s enrichments count a stylish vodka freezer; simultaneous decoration and product optimisation; lockers for personal belongings and unique barrels for cocktail-ageing. From their assortment, over forty premium vodkas are served ice-cold in frosted glasses, which are indicative of the high-class bar culture to be experienced at Onyx.

Barrel-ageing is a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. At the time barrels were used for transport and storage, but during this kind of transportation of wine it was discovered that the wood had an effect on the distillation, which lent its distinctive qualities to the distillations’ taste and barrels are now used to give the mixtures their last polish and above all, refinement. Bitter substances are enhanced before the sugar is degraded; vanilla tones and the woodiness come through during oxidation.

As a result, classic drinks develop an excellent note. The French oak barrels at Onyx are, depending on the cocktail or spirit, stored between three to six months before their content is filled into bottles and served at the bar.

The ones used here hold three litres – small barrels have more surface per litre and drinks are therefore created faster – and have been tested for ten years to improve technique and drinks. The alcohol inserted must be over 20% proof to warrant durability. A dry barrel would first be filled and swelled with water to ensure it is solid. Often, Absinth is poured into it and left for a few months before the barrel is used for another drink. This way the barrel gets sealed and the drink will get a special taste from the Absinth. A bijou is a classic from a hundred years ago with vermouth, orange and chocolate; it tastes wooden from the barrel and is perfect for either pre or after dinner. Guests decide after a taste whether to have the drink cold or warm.

We were to try some of their signature drinks from barrel storage, which came with specially created nibbles by Hyatt chef Frank Widmer:

The Long Fashioned Ice Tea, as the name suggests, a mixture of a normal Long Island Ice Tea and an Old Fashioned, presented something known in a new outfit with coke with vanilla and spices, lime zest instead of juice and was served with quickly browned bison entre-côte and vanilla peach.

Sazerac dates back to 1880s New Orleans due to different whiskeys, two cognacs, sugar, bitters and Absinth taste from the barrel.

Twisted Colada is an own spirit, light rum with pickled spices. The rum was to dominate the drink in a positive way, so they thought of Daiquiri, which reflects classicism combined with what’s happening in the bar scene today. With the red salt on top it covers all flavours.

Our mixture contains four parts of Absolut Vodka Mandarin, two parts lime cordial and two parts raspberry liqueur. We are still awaiting for it to be matured and try it – can’t wait!

NoéMie Schwaller

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