House Spirits Distillery Tour and Cocktail Tasting

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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.

Aviation Gin

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.

Lee Medoff and Jeff Morgenthaler

After the tour, and a few more cocktails by Matt, we all took turns behind the bar whipping up our specialties using Aviation.

The whole group at the bar.

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.

Kevin Ludwig's Salt and Pepper cocktail

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!

Lance Mayhew and Kevin Ludwig examine the ATTY cocktail

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…

Clyde Common's Mint Julep

…and Anemic Marys made with Serrano chili, sun-dried tomato vodka, celery juice and fresh citrus sour.

The Anemic Mary at Clyde Common

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!

9 Replies to “House Spirits Distillery Tour and Cocktail Tasting”

  • Will Haynes says:

    Great write-up! I’m especially inspired by the Anemic Mary and the mint infused bourbon.

  • Thanks Jeff!

    Making drinks for bartenders was pretty nerve racking.

    I’m just glad I didn’t completely blow it!

    The ATTY is a pretty fiddly cocktail, and the brand of Violette, Gin, or Absinthe can make a big impact.

    It did seem like a very nice fit for the Aviation Gin.

    ATTY Cocktail

    3/4 oz French Vermouth
    1 teaspoon Absinthe
    1 1/2 oz Aviation Gin
    A bit more than 1 teaspoon Creme de Violette

    Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

  • Lance Mayhew says:

    Damn, I didn’t realize we were doing Aviation gin cocktails or I would have knocked out a Corpse Reviver #2. I love the way Aviation provides some backbone to that cocktail.

    Maybe it was all of the previous cocktails that threw me. I was pretty buzzed by that point. And I was really hoping to play with their rum, not the cruzan (although I was happy with it).

  • Jeffrey says:

    Erik, I was going to post the recipe, but I misplaced my copy of the Savoy after the last cocktail summit. Thanks for the proportions.

    Lance, I thought your rum departure was a nice break from all of the gin we’d been drinking. But I agree, I would have liked to mix something up with the House rum.

  • Jeff Frane says:

    We (including your crack team of Eugene researchers) had dinner last Saturday at Clyde Common. Brilliant. Jenaya had the Anemic Mary and the rest of us Jim Beam Rye Manhattans. The beer selection is pathetic, but that made choosing cocktails that much easier. Great great place to eat and drink.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Jeff, I was pleasantly surprised to find Hoegaarden on tap, so I personally wouldn’t call the selection ‘pathetic’, but maybe ‘small’.

    But I do agree, the food and drinks were all brilliant.

  • Siobhan says:

    I’m late to this post,…but great wrap up! I wish I could have come to play at House Spirits…next time.

    I think I have to make that Anemic Mary pic my desktop. I love that drink.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Wasn’t that great? They did a wonderful job with that drink, and it’s certainly been quite the buzz – from what I’ve heard all the way down here, anyway.

    Would have loved to have had you join us on the tour, Siobhan, but it was great to see you guys at Clyde Common!

  • Evan says:

    I noticed your Pink cocktail, I have a drink similar to this but with the addtion of just a touch of fernet Branca, you should give this a try.

    Harmony-
    1 1/2 oz. Gin (I use Plymouth)
    1/2 oz. Creme de Cassis
    1/8 oz. Fernet Branca
    1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
    1/4 oz. Simple Syrup
    shake and strain
    garnish with lemon twist

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