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Quadrant Bar Turns Up the Volume

Mixologist Chris Mendenhall of Washington, DC’s Quadrant Bar & Lounge talks instant whiskey-aging and the power of sous vide. 

By Marilyn Kitzes

Sous-Vide: What is sound-aged whiskey? Where did this idea come from?

Chris Mendenhall: The sound-age technique uses high-frequency sound to mimic the flavor characteristics of a whiskey that’s been barrel aged for years. After researching and reading about what whiskey makers and enthusiasts were doing around the world, I felt driven to bring this unique technique to Quadrant Bar & Lounge.

SV: Can you give examples of some of Quadrant’s drinks that use this technique?

CM: One of our cocktails is a sound-aged Negroni, which includes gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, and American Oak soaked in Cabernet. This has become a favorite mostly because of its unique flavor that the American Oak gives it. The oak helps to mellow out the traditional herbal and botanical flavors of a traditional Negroni, while adding a hint of Cabernet.

SV: We hear Quadrant offers other playful ways for customers to experience the “sound-aged difference.” Can you explain?

CM: When we engage with guests and offer them a sound-aged experience, we start by offering them 1 oz. of each base whiskey (unchanged, which we are not making ourselves) and a 1 oz. pour of the sound-aged whiskey. This gives us the opportunity to educate our guests about how whiskey is made, the aging process, the flavor profiles and then allows them to taste the difference between the base and the sound-aged.

SV: How is Quadrant different from bars at other Ritz-Carlton properties?

CM: Our goal at Quadrant Bar & Lounge is to always strive to offer guests something new, and to push the boundaries. We look for ways to incorporate culinary techniques coupled with advances in culinary technology to our beverages, including classic cocktails, to create flavor combinations and experiences for our guests.

SV: Can you tell us about Quadrant’s cocktails that use the sous vide method?

CM: We love to use the sous vide method for cocktails. It is such a great way to capture flavors, especially herbs such as mint and rosemary, which usually brown a spirit once they oxidize, and can start to taste bitter. When you use sous vide, these herbs stay fresh and the flavors hold longer. This method is also great when using spices, fruits, and honeycomb.

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