PDX Puts a Local Spin on Cold Weather Cocktails

By Kaitlin Ohlinger, Foodable Contributor

Credit: Instagram, @whisky_chat

Credit: Instagram, @whisky_chat

The summer of 2015 included more straight days of 100+ degrees than have been seen in years, and Portlanders are ready to embrace cooler temperatures. Nothing warms the bones quite like spirits, and Portland is fortunate to have a bevy of local distillers at its fingertips. Even more conveniently, most are located within the Southeast neighborhood in what is now known as Distillery Row. In a well-coordinated effort, Distillery Row offers a passport, enabling interested parties to taste at each of the seven distilleries for $20 a season. 

New Deal Distillery

Step inside New Deal Distillery’s tasting room and you are greeted with a modern and industrial vibe, as feels appropriate for its Southeast location. Now in its eleventh year, New Deal was the first to take up residence in Distillery Row in 2004, and just the second modern distillery in Portland history. Following in the footsteps of the local wine & craft beer industries, Distillery Row really seems to have a stronghold in the area. Portland deserves a lot of credit for this; consumers, retailers and restaurants truly seem to all lock in on the support of these local efforts, enabling them to not just succeed, but flourish and rack up national accolades. 

New Deal is no exception, most recently being awarded “Best Local Distillery” by Willamette Week’s “Best of Portland” poll, one of the “10 Best American Small Batch Gins” by Men’s Journal, and a “Best Supporting Spirit” from SIP Northwest for its Coffee Liqueur. Are the coffee beans local? How could they not be! Made from Water Avenue Coffee beans, located just a half-mile away. Never let it be said that Portland isn’t 100 percent authentic in its locality.

Credit: Instagram

Credit: Instagram

New Deal’s Award-Winning Portland Dry Gin 33

Now about that award winning small-batch gin… what makes it perfect for a cooler weather classic gin cocktail? A study in purity, the Portland Dry Gin 33 is based entirely off of juniper berries (locally grown ones, at that), without the addition of other botanicals. The result is an exceptionally clean gin with delicate weavings of fresh citrus, mint, grass and sweet pine. 

Savory herbs are brilliant with fall cuisine, and will naturally accentuate the Portland 33’s lively citrus. A twist on a Rosemary Gin Fizz is a perfect mate:

Honey-Sage Gin Fizz

  • 3 oz. Portland Dry Gin 33
  • 1/2 oz. - 1 oz. honey sage syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 5 oz. soda
  • Fresh sage leaves 

For more Portland Dry Gin 33 ideas, click here.

Chocolate Vodka for Grown-Ups: The Mud Puddle

If you want to experience a renaissance of flavors, investigate the Mud Puddle Bitter Chocolate Vodka. While traditionally associated with a sickly sweet, cavity-inducing product used only for the rare chocolate martini, the Mud Puddle takes chocolate vodka to a new level. The nose is a dead-ringer for a chocolate covered espresso bean. A rich amber color and completely unsweetened, it resonates on a mature scale. Warming and sultry.

The Mud Puddle’s sophistication provides a fantastic backdrop for a wide variety of cocktails. Seeing as how Mezcal is currently enjoying a surge in popularity, the Pita Amour seems like an ideal choice for a chilly night: 

Pita Amour*

  • 1 1/2 oz. New Deal Mud Puddle Bitter Chocolate Vodka
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. Vida Mezcal
  • Bar spoon 2:1 Demerara sugar simple syrup
  • 4 drops salt water
  • Orange oil garnish

Serve up in a coupe.

*Original recipe designed by Rum Club’s Bar Manager, Emily Mistell

For more of New Deal’s Mud Puddle Cocktail ideas, click here.

Dollars and Sense

In addition to the keen interest Portlanders seem to take in craft beer & spirits, they deserve credit for actually backing up their interest with their spending habits. Your average educated customer will almost always choose a local spirit over a competitor. New Deal Distilling and many other members of Distillery Row are a popular choice for local bars & restaurants. Committing to a $30 retail bottle may seem lofty to a large category of people, so restaurants play a crucial role in exposing the masses to the wonders of craft spirits. Do it in a flavorful, creative and inspired way? You may have created a lifetime customer. 

An August article in Fortune stated there are now close to 800 craft distilleries in the United States, compared to just 50 a decade earlier. Does it qualify as a “craft spirit boom” at this point? Popular opinion says yes. Portland’s microcosm of craft distilleries are certainly something to brag about.