TNT Diner

This Tacoma bar puts its tequila in a barrel. Here’s why

The Sunspot is a tequila drink that’s barrel aged to smooth out the flavors. Find it at Asado in Tacoma.
The Sunspot is a tequila drink that’s barrel aged to smooth out the flavors. Find it at Asado in Tacoma. skidd@thenewstribune.com

As we shift into the end of summer, the search for patio cocktails becomes even more important.

Head to Sixth Avenue in Tacoma to taste a good one.

It’s the Sunspot, a barrel-aged tequila cocktail from Asado. That’s the Argentinean steakhouse known for its mesquite grill. It also has an excellent street-side patio with a view of the restaurant neighborhood’s bustle.

While it’s easy to find the extended family tree of whiskey in barrel-aged cocktail form here, tequila is tougher.

What I appreciated about Asado’s version was the push-and-pull of spice and smoke in the cocktail, which was created for Asado by Tim Flippin, a Tacoma-based cocktail consultant and graphic artist. His company is called O’Flippin's Barrel-aged Cocktails.

Because the tequila was barrel aged, that also meant the rough edges tasted smoother.

For those who aren’t familiar with barrel-aged cocktails, they’re simple in concept. Take a wood barrel or small wood cask. Add various spirits. After 14 to 45 days or longer, the concoction turns into a kinder, gentler version of itself.

Barrel-aged drinks are one way for cocktail drinkers who are skeptical of slap-you-in-the-face cocktails (I’m looking at you, Sazerac) to enjoy something slightly less assertive.

Asado is one of a handful of restaurants in Tacoma serving barrel-aged concoctions. Pacific Grill, WildFin American Grill, Stack 571 and Stanley and Seafort’s also offer versions.

Flippin starts with a pomegranate-infused tequila and then adds orange liqueur and Peychaud’s bitters. Anisette provides the licorice-like note that complements the smoky tones from barrel aging and plays well with the drink’s light sweetness.

“It has a bit of a peppery character,” said Flippin, who ages the cocktail for at least two weeks. “What you get with the tequila and anisette, you get a spiciness right off the bat, and the spice lingers.”

It tasted more fruity than I imagined. That’s the orange liqueur talking.

“You can’t put citrus in the barrel,” Flippin said. Adding juice could allow for spoilage during the aging process. That meant the best way to infuse citrus to complement the tequila was to add a spirit with citrus tones.

The Sunspot is served over an oversized ice cube in a rocks glass with a long swath of lemon peel sunk deep in the glass. It’s $12.

You don’t have long to drink it, though. It will leave the menu once the supply of the barrel cocktail runs out. Find Asado at 2810 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-7770; asadotacoma.com.

ANOTHER TEQUILA TAKE

Downtown Tacoma’s Pacific Grill has added a tequila-based cocktail to its barrel-aged cocktail list. The margarita is made with blanco tequila, agave and Cointreau.

There’s also a barrel-aged vanilla bean daiquiri and the restaurant’s barrel-aged old fashioned is still on the menu.

The barrel cocktails are $15, but here’s a tip. Barrel-aged cocktails are half price every Thursday. Find Pacific Grill at 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-3535; pacificgrilltacoma.com.

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