Ginger liqueur adds elegance and versatility to a bar, and for years, that meant a bottle of Domaine de Canton. But thanks to Josh Morton, Brooklyn now has its very own all-natural variety of the spirit: Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. Barrow’s is a clean, bright, and spicy liqueur that encapsulates the flavors of fresh ginger root. We talked with Josh about why and how he started a ginger liqueur company, and we gathered a few cocktail recipes to stir up at home.
What is your background? Did you have liqueur-making experience before starting Barrow’s?
I own my own technology consulting firm, so I have two jobs now. I have been making Barrow’s Intense for my friends for over 10 years, and they finally urged me to make it into something for the public.
I learned about flavored liqueurs from a friend who was a chef over in Italy. In Europe, it’s common practice to make your own liqueurs or herbal stuff or wine. I was there visiting him, and he made some cool concoctions. When I complimented him, he was like, “Oh, it’s really easy to do.” I didn’t believe him at first, but it actually is. Getting it to taste good is not always easy, but the underlying mechanism is easy, so I started playing around and arrived at the version of what I have now.
How did you perfect the recipe?
Trial and error. At the beginning, I was making two different batches at a time, so I’d see which batch guests asked for more of. Whichever bottle finished first was the winner. It was better to know they liked A over B better, but the fact that my friends drank a lot was not an indication that it was good.
When did you officially launch Barrow’s Intense?
February 2013. It’s eight months old, and it’s going great. I have my own distillery license for a space in Sunset Park, Industry City. I’m a building or two over from Industry City Distilling.
Is this a one-man show?
I have one assistant but no full-time employees.
What’s the process of making the liqueur?
It’s four ingredients: fresh ginger, sugar, water, and alcohol. That’s it. No chemicals, food coloring, or additives. I start with 30 pounds of ginger. A quarter pound of ginger ends up in each bottle.
I’m technically a rectifier not a distiller. I don’t have any heat in my process. I put ginger into the alcohol and create the flavor using a maceration-infusion process. As the ginger is macerated, the alcohol is infused. And from there I strain it and add in the sugar water. The sugar content is low enough that I don’t need heat to dissolve the sugar, so I get a really pure ginger flavor because of it.
Where do you source your ginger from?
Wherever is growing it that season, so usually Brazil or China. The color actually shifts from batch to batch, but the flavor stays consistent. Color comes from the skin, and that changes depending on the season and location. I view my product more like a wine than a spirit because of the seasonality and natural variation from the ginger root.
Where can people find Barrow’s Intense?
It’s available in about 60 places around the city, between liquor stores, bars and restaurants, including The Good Fork and Daddy-O. There’s a location finder online that people can use.
How do you like to drink Barrow’s Intense?
In the winter it definitely goes well in tea. Initially, for those first 10 years, I just served it on the rocks after dinner as a digestif. The varieties of cocktails people have come up with are amazing. I’ve seen a beer cocktail made with Barrow’s. People are cooking with it, baking with it. Someone made a crème brûlée another made a ceviche, someone made a pork glaze. It’s been amazing. I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Get a taste of Barrow’s Intense at this year’s Holiday Spirit Tasting Event and be sure to check out two craft cocktail recipes from The Good Fork and Daddy-O listed below.
by Phillip Casaceli, Owner/Operator of Daddy-O
3/4 oz. Fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz. Honey syrup
1 oz. Blackberry puree
1 oz. Zubrowka Vodka
2 oz. Ginger beer
Fill a collins glass with ice to chill. Add the lime juice, Barrow’s Intense, honey syrup, blueberry puree, and vodka to a mixing glass, fill with ice, and shake vigorously for 10 to 12 seconds. Empty ice from glass and fill approximately half full with fresh ice. Double strain cocktail over ice in collins glass. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with Bison Grass (or a lime wheel).
Trance of the Harpsichord
by Matty McDermott of The Good Fork
2 oz. Busnel Calvados
1 oz. Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
1/3 oz. – 1/2 oz. Absinthe Ordinaire
1/3 oz. – 1/2 oz. Fresh squeezed lemon juice
For garnish, peel and shave slices of fresh ginger and soak in brandy
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker filled to the brim with ice. Stir until the shaker frosts. Pour into chilled martini glass. Take one brandy-soaked ginger slice and gently paint the martini glass rim with it. Drop garnish into glass. Drink happily.