Compared to the barrel-aged cocktail trend of years past, bottle-aged drinks are a bartender trick worth stealing to try at home.\r\n\r\nHere\u2019s why: It doesn\u2019t involve a barrel or any other fancy equipment, and it can result in a mellower, richer drink, aided only by the magic of time in a bottle. And if you\u2019ve purchased liquor, you already have the bottle, although swing-top options are easy to procure.\r\n\r\nBut how long can you wait for that drink? A couple of days? A few weeks?\r\n\r\nSome bartenders are willing to wait as long as five years.\r\n\r\nFor Sother Teague, beverage director/bar manager of Amor y Amargo, and co-owner of Coup and Windmill in New York City, what started as a 90-Day Sour turned into a four-year project. It yielded his Four-Year-Old Brandy Sour, now a ritual pour on New Year\u2019s Day.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat\u2019s interesting is as it ages, the flavor continues to get so soft and mellow,\u201d says Teague. In addition, he says, \u201cit tastes less and less boozy over the years.\u201d\r\n\r\nTo age a citrus-based cocktail is a bit of a risk, but Teague assures that the alcohol chemically \u201ccooks\u201d the juice, which prevents rancidity. Over time, the mix of brandy, overproof vodka, Demerara sugar and citrus juices (lemon, lime and orange juices) thicken and take on a richer, almost caramelized flavor. Teague likens the appearance and viscosity to mango juice.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere\u2019s no magic trick, no enzymes or anything I\u2019ve added to the puzzle,\u201d says Teague. \u201cIt\u2019s booze and sugar and juice, and let it sit.\u201d He adds one key tip gleaned from canning fruit with his grandmother. \u201cFill it close to the top, so there\u2019s no oxygen in there.\u201d\r\n\r\nIs it possible to age a cocktail too long? \u201cI don\u2019t know!\u201d Teague admits. \u201cThat\u2019s why I want to keep doing this.\u201d In the meantime, he has enough of his bottled cocktail to continue aging. Come 2020, he\u2019ll pop open a five-year-old brandy sour.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nNick Bennett, beverage director at New York City\u2019s Porchlight, spends years aging the base egg nog he makes for himself and friends. The recipe begins with eggs and sugar, before he layers on rum, Bourbon, overproof Cognac and \u201ca big pinch of salt.\u201d Milk, cream and nutmeg are added right before serving.\r\n\r\nWhile Bennett says those first sips \u201ctook some courage to drink,\u201d he became bolder in subsequent years. He says the egg nog took on a pleasing banana-like flavor by Year Two.\r\n\r\nSometimes, long-term aging is just a happy accident. Scott Marshall, now proprietor of Alley Cat Lounge in Savannah, Georgia, was introduced to clarified milk punch during his previous stint at the Boston bar Drink.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s a colonial style of punch that curdles milk with citrus, mixes in alcohol then strains out the solids. What remains is a crystal-clear, shelf-stable drink, a preservation trick particularly useful before the days of refrigeration.\r\n\r\nMarshall whipped up large batches of clarified milk punch regularly, which he often decanted into flasks to share with friends. One batch in particular was made with green and yellow Chartreuses, and Batavia arrack, a funky molasses- and rice-based spirit.\r\n\r\nIn 2011, Marshall brought bundles of the flasks to Tales of the Cocktail, an annual cocktail conference held in New Orleans. He gifted flasks to everyone he came across.\r\n\r\nSeven years later, Boston bartender Fred Yarm opened his Chartreuse milk punch and pronounced it \u201csublime.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve never known anyone to keep it more than a couple of months, refrigerated,\u201d says Marshall. \u201cWhen Fred said he\u2019d held his for seven years, that amazed me.\u201d\r\n\r\nFor those who don\u2019t want to wait quite that long, Batch Cocktails (Ten Speed Press, 2019) author Maggie Hoffman has a quicker fix: bottled cocktails that are mixed ahead of time and set in the fridge or freezer to age from a few days to a few weeks.\r\n\r\n\u201cEven a few days in, you may notice a drink\u2019s flavors seem to integrate and meld together,\u201d says Hoffman. However, if you plan to age a drink for longer than two weeks, she advises to not add bitters until the day you serve the cocktails. Hoffman says that it results in a more balanced, full-flavored drink.\r\n\r\nShe finds these drinks ideal to make ahead of time to serve at parties, although there\u2019s also something to be said for having a pre-made cocktail waiting in the fridge at the end of a long day.\r\n\r\nAssuming you can wait that long, of course.\r\n\r\n\r\nAll She Wrote, an Aged Punch Recipe\r\nIn Batch Cocktails, scheduled to be released in March, Hoffman calls attention to this vermouth-based drink contributed by Los Angeles bartender Jeremy Simpson, developed originally for Bestia.\r\n\r\n\u201c[It] ages wonderfully in the back of your refrigerator,\u201d she says of this low-alcohol sipper. \u201cTry it after a few months, and you may decide to devote more of your fridge space to a cocktail stash.\u201d\r\n\r\nIf you plan to age longer than a few weeks, omit the bitters and add 2 dashes to each glass when poured.\r\nIngredients\r\n2\u00bc cups Punt e Mes\r\n\r\n1 cup plus 1 ounce dry vermouth, like Dolin\r\n\r\n3 ounces maraschino liqueur\r\n\r\n1\u00bd ounces pamplemousse (grapefruit) liqueur, like Combier or Giffard\r\n\r\n\u2154 ounce Peychaud\u2019s Bitters\r\n\r\nFlaky sea salt (for garnish)\r\nDirections\r\nBatch ingredients at least 2 hours before serving. Using small funnel, pour all ingredients (except garnish) into 1-liter, swing-top bottle. Seal well, and gently turn over-end to mix. Refrigerate.\r\n\r\nTo serve, turn bottle gently to mix. In rocks glass, pour cocktail over large ice cube. Gently stir before serving. Garnish with small pinch of salt. Serves 12.