Normally I procrastinate on all of my Christmas shopping, but this year I’m starting early. This week I’m starting up a couple gifts that need some time – an Apple Infused Brandy & a Barrel-Aged Negroni cocktail.

This is just part 1, and we’ll be back in a few weeks with part 2 when we’re ready to (literally) wrap these up!

As a reminder, here’s part 1 and part 2 of our Vodka Infusion video with lots of great information about infusions.  We also talk about barrel aging in our Barrel Aged Ice video.

Need Barrels or Bottles?

  • We got our barrel at Oak Barrels Ltd.
  • You may also want to consider buying your final “gift” bottles now, too.  They can be purchased at most higher-end kitchen stores, or you can also find them on Amazon. (affiliate link)

Apple-Infused Brandy


  • Dried Apples – contributes a baked apple goodness
  • One Granny Smith Apple
  • 750ml bottle of Brandy

Making the Apple Brandy:

  1. Roughly chop the Granny Smith apple and 15-20 pieces of dried apples.
  2. Add the apples to an infusion container. (You can use any non-reactive & airtight container, like glass or stainless steel)
  3. Add the Brandy


  • Stir your apple and brandy infusion daily and keep it in a cool and dry place.
  • The infusion itself roughly takes about 2 weeks, but taste it periodically for flavor.
  • When the infusion reaches the flavor you’re looking for, go ahead and take the apples out and bottle it.  (We’ll show this step in Part 2 of this post!)

Barrel-Aged Negroni


  • 3 parts Gin
  • 2 parts Sweet Vermouth
  • 3 parts Gran Classico instead of Campari (my preference*)

Making the Barrel-Aged Negroni:

  1. Pour out all the ingredients in a pitcher.
  2. Put it your barrel.
  3. Let it age for 5-7 weeks.


  • If your barrel is new (or hasn’t been used recently), be sure to fill it with water & let it sit for several (around 4) hours so the wood can expand and the barrel will become water-tight.  Note: the barrel may leak a little during this time, so I normally place it in a sink or on a cookie sheet to catch the drips.  If you don’t do this, your liquor will drip out everywhere and make a huge mess – so don’t skip this step unless you love to mop!
  • While it sounds obvious, don’t skip using a funnel for your barrel.  The air coming out will interrupt the cocktail going in & you’re likely to make a mess.  (I tried not using a funnel once.  Only once!)
  • * I prefer to use Gran Classico instead of Campari for my Negroni’s, because I understand that Gran Classico is actually closest to the original formulation of Campari.  And, to be honest, I just think it creates a richer, more balanced cocktail.  Again, just my preference!
  • The aging process usually takes around 5-7 weeks.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our Ho-Ho-Holiday Gifts post!

We’ll finish up these two gifts around mid-December & add a few more gift ideas to the mix as well.   Oh, and don’t tell my friends and family about this!

How about you?

Have you made cocktails or liqueurs for gifts before?  What did you make? Let us know in the comments!

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.