I was in Portland again this weekend, taking a tour of House Spirits Distillery and meeting with some West Coast cocktail luminaries. I’ve been a big fan of the House Spirits products for quite some time, so this was quite the excursion for me.
I was met there by some other like-minded enthusiasts:
Erik Ellestad of the eGullet Spirits and Cocktails forum was in town. If you haven’t seen Erik’s Stomping Through the Savoy thread where he’s making every drink, in order, from the Savoy Cocktail Book, then do yourself a favor and check it out. More about that in a bit.
Kevin Ludwig of Park Kitchen fame and the original king of housemade tonic water here in the Pacific Northwest (maybe you remember him from Imbibe Magazine earlier this year?).
We started with a quick tour of the distilling process given by owner Lee Medoff, while House Spirits bar master Matt whipped up some Aviation cocktails made with two parts Aviation gin, one part fresh lemon juice and one part Maraska maraschino liqueur.
After the tour, and a few more cocktails by Matt, we all took turns behind the bar whipping up our specialties using Aviation.
Kevin made a round of Salt and Peppers for us using Aviation gin, fresh grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice and a touch of simple syrup, served up in a glass with a salted rim. Just a touch of spice and refreshing as hell.
I stepped in and made a Pink, one of our El Vaquero house drinks made with Aviation gin, creme de cassis, fresh lemon juice and a touch of simple syrup. I’ve always liked this one because it doesn’t hide the Aviation under a lot of other flavors and lets me really taste the unique flavors found in the gin.
But what happened next took us all by surprise. Erik, the only one of the group not a bartender, stepped behind the stick and deftly produced a round of ATTY cocktails, straight from the Savoy Cocktail Book, using Aviation gin, maraschino liqueur, Lucid Absinthe, Martini and Rossi dry vermouth and a twist of lemon. Perfect exploration of the flavors found in the Aviation, and a great use of the ingredients we had on hand. Nice work, Erik!
The hour was getting late, so we raced across town to meet Siobhan Crosby of Imbibe Magazine at Clyde Common, Portland’s newest food and drink hotspot. Bartender Charlie Hodge had us eating out of the palm of his hand as he poured us Mint Juleps made with mint-infused bourbon…
…and Anemic Marys made with Serrano chili, sun-dried tomato vodka, celery juice and fresh citrus sour.
But, as all good things must come to an end, so did we begin the long trip back down the Interstate to our humble home. Thanks again, Portland, we’ll be seeing you all very soon!