FOR THE AMATEUR MIXOLOGIST, all it takes to entertain friends at home are the right bar implements, the right glassware, a few simple recipes and the necessary ingredients. For this holiday season’s cocktails, we suggest spirits from five Portland, Oregon, distilleries for their innovation and ability to star in some very simple yet distinctive craft cocktails that are easy to make at home.
Thomas & Sons Distillery creates spirits using Townshend teas and a host of botanicals for a distinctive lineup you’ll find nowhere else. Wild Roots Vodka creates vodkas that have a delightfully uncommon fruit intensity. House Spirits makes an aquavit that has won an award as the world’s best. New Deal Distillery’s Portland Vodka and Ginger Liqueur combine to put the spice in your holidays. And Chute 8 Whiskey layers with fruit juices to make a whiskey sour reminiscent of a holiday punch.
These distilleries are not new on the block, but their liquors continue to make a splash at cocktail time. These seven easy-to-make recipes featuring their spirits are designed to brighten up holiday gatherings. Most are new twists on old classics, made possible by groundbreaking Portland distilleries.
Townshend’s Bluebird Alpine is a slightly sweet liqueur, distilled using aromatic herbs and spices, like angelica and fennel. This delicious hot toddy recipe warms chilly winter evenings; it was created by Ray “Rat” Nagler, Thomas & Sons Distillery, Portland, Oregon.
2 oz. Townshend’s Bluebird Alpine Liqueur
5 oz. hot cider
⅓ – ½ oz. lemon juice (to taste)
Pre-warm a mug. Add ingredients, stir gently. Garnish with a lemon wheel and cinnamon stick. You can scale up this recipe for a crowd in a crock pot punch bowl.
Marionberry Lemon Drop
Wild Roots Marionberry Vodka doesn’t mess around when it comes to flavor, color and the deep density of real fruit. Recipe courtesy of Wild Roots Vodka, Portland, Oregon.
2 oz. Wild Roots
1 oz. lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass, garnish with lemon slice.
Sweet and spicy, a perfect Christmas Eve cocktail or a liquid dessert. Recipe courtesy of New Deal Distillery, Portland, Oregon.
1 oz. (New Deal) Portland Vodka
½ oz. New Deal Ginger Liqueur
½ oz. Portland Soda Works Vanilla-Spiced Rooibos Syrup
¾ oz. cream
Candied ginger for garnish
Shake all ingredients over ice. Pour over fresh ice into rocks glass and garnish with candied ginger.
Eastern Oregon Whiskey Sour
Chute 8 Whiskey celebrates the big, bold American West with a versatile 50-50 rye-mash blend. This recipe for a fruit-forward whiskey sour (sans egg whites) is provided courtesy of Indio Spirits, creators of Chute 8. indiospirits.com
1½ oz. Chute 8
Splash of orange juice
Splash of pineapple juice
Dash of orange bitters
Splash of lemon juice
Pour ingredients in a glass over ice in the order given. This cocktail should be served layered, do not stir. Garnish with orange wedge.
Aquavit Pepper Smash
Uff da! This aquavit cocktail packs a flavor punch. Serve it with canapes like thinly sliced rye smeared with dilled crème fraiche, topped with slivers of julienned lox or crumbles of smoked trout. This recipe is provided courtesy of House Spirits, Portland, Oregon.
2 oz. House Spirits Krogstad Festlig Aquavit
¾ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
¾ oz. fresh red pepper juice
¾ oz. clover honey syrup (2 parts clover honey, 1 part hot tap water)
2 sprigs of mint
Muddle one sprig of mint with honey syrup in a shaker. Add aquavit and juices. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Rose City Fizz
White Rose is a delicately flavored liquor distilled using white tea and rose petals. This cocktail is a Northwest take on San Francisco’s famous Ramos Fizz, created by Long Distance Cocktail Club; the recipe is courtesy of the creator of Townshend’s White Rose: Thomas & Son’s Distillery, Portland, Oregon.
1½ oz. Aviation American Gin
¾ oz Townshend White Rose
¾ oz. lemon juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
1 egg white
Combine in a chilled cocktail shaker with plenty of cracked ice, then shake viciously for at least 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Optional: Top up with cold seltzer or club soda.
Sherry the Cable Guy
Townshend’s Kashmiri Amaro is a distinctive liquor made with Assamese black tea, spices like cardamom and black pepper, and Italian herbs and roots. This cocktail recipe was created by Ray “Rat” Nagler and Addison Harris, Thomas & Sons Distillery, Portland, Oregon. thomasandsonsdistillery.com
2 oz. Townshend’s Kashmiri Amaro
½ oz. amontillado Sherry
¼ oz. honey syrup*
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir 60 times. Strain into a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with real Maraschino cherry.**
* Made by combining 2 parts honey with 1 part boiling water.
** Luxardo and Amarena Toschi brands are recommended.