Sometimes truly special cocktails are hiding right out in the open—maybe in a place you thought was an unlikely, or "unserious," craft cocktail bar.
That’s what we found at Albert G’s downtown during a recent happy hour. We’d heard talk of barrel-aged cocktails and a bourbon barrel rack, surprising for what seems on first glance like a no-frills BBQ joint. So we went on a "research" expedition.
Past the round tables and booths of families eating an early BBQ supper sits a beautiful and well stocked—though not large, considering the size of the restaurant—craft cocktail bar that rivals Tulsa’s usual suspects. With over 130 different bourbons and five signature barrel-aged cocktails, Albert G’s bar is a diamond on the windswept outskirts of the Blue Dome District.
We tasted four of their five signature cocktails—a tequila Old Fashioned, the house margarita, a Rol & Rye, and the 46 Old Fashioned—all mixed and barrel-aged by bar manager Shannon Greenberg.
"My philosophy is I want drinkability," said Greenberg, as we swooned over the margarita, which is made with an aged mixture of Black Barrel Hornitos tequila, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and three types of bitters. One of Albert G’s most popular drinks, Greenberg said they sell roughly 600 margaritas per month and barrel-age 20 to 40 liters at any given time.
Using charred, white oak barrels, Greenberg creates cocktail recipes and then experiments with the aging process. Some he finds need longer than others. Right now, Greenberg is aging his take on a Rol & Rye, made with Aperol, rye whiskey, and Jamaican bitters. It’s been in the barrel for two weeks and will age, he thinks, another four to six.
The fully stocked bar also has a corner for scotch whiskies. But, according to Greenberg, "that’s not why you come here."
Albert G’s hosts a bourbon club, which meets monthly and offers members a "whiskey passport" to be stamped as you work your way through the selection, with rewards as your stamps accumulate. This month, the club will have a private wax dipping with Maker’s Mark.
"I want people to come because we make damn good drinks," Greenberg said.
Indeed, they do.
In "Down the Hatch," assistant editor Liz Blood offers a look inside Tulsa’s many bars, pubs, saloons and gin joints. Send suggestions for future columns to firstname.lastname@example.org or @lizblood on Twitter. For another sip, read Liz's article on Downtown Lounge.