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Montego Bay

Montego Bay DetailDuring a recent visit to the Red Star Tavern in Portland, Oregon, Brandon Lockman—the creative genius behind the bar—shared his recipe for a delicious cocktail on the menu right now called the Montego Bay. On the page, the recipe itself is basically a Daiquiri variant at its heart. But as we will explain, this one is complex enough for it to land somewhere in Tiki territory alongside frightful favorites like the Zombie—although it's not described that way on the menu. The fact that it uses Banks 5 Island Rum was enough to captivate our interest, and now that we can finally make a proper Paddington with it, we were eager for another great recipe to share.

We aren't entirely certain why Lockman calls this the Montego Bay—perhaps geography plays a part, given the fact that Portland is located in the Northwest, and Montego Bay is a northwestern port in Jamaica. Jamaica, of course, is one of the countries contributing rum to the Banks 5 Island blend. Whatever the reason, we can't argue with the choice when it aligns so nicely with Caribbean flavors of rum, citrus and allspice!

Montego BayMontego Bay by Brandon Lockman

2 oz Bank's 5 Island Rum
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz grapefruit juice
.5 oz honey syrup
.25 oz pimento dram (allspice)
3 dashes absinthe bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a mint leaf.

Choosing Banks as a base spirit is akin to the manual rum blending that is common among recipes in the Tiki category. By leveraging a blended spirit from the start, we are achieving a similar effect without even trying. The complexity this brings to the glass is just the beginning. We also have a blend of citrus which is balanced with honey syrup. You can make honey syrup easily by combining equal parts of honey and warm water. Just make sure it's thoroughly mixed before adding the half-ounce to your shaker.

In addition to the honey syrup, Lockman throws in a quarter-ounce of pimento dram, or allspice liqueur. Adding this to your cabinet is a buy-it-once affair since it's likely to last a very long time. The potent flavor of allspice demands that it is used in tiny proportions. Yet, even a quarter ounce is enough to impart wonderful spiced aromatics and flavors. Combined with the lime and grapefruit, the effect is similar to Don's Mix in a Zombie cocktail. Don the Beachcomber famously invented the secret recipe for the Zombie in 1934 which was later discovered to contain a mixture of grapefruit juice and cinnamon syrup. That's very close to what we have going in the Montego Bay.

To round out the flavors and transform this from something interesting into divine inspiration requires absinthe bitters. Absinthe, as you may recall, is a powerful herbal anise-flavored spirit. To make his special bitters, Lockman combines the spirit with a healthy dose of Green Chartreuse and trace amounts of Angostura, Peychaud's and mint bitters. Getting these flavors just right is admittedly a challenge. You might simply give up and order the drink at the Red Star Tavern, but those of you willing to experiment can attempt a close approximation using eyedroppers. After a peek at the bulk recipe for the bitters, we took the following shortcut: 1 drop of Angostura, 1 drop of Peychaud's, 8 drops of Chartreuse, and 32 drops of absinthe. We didn't have mint bitters, so we opted to shake the drink with a sprig of mint and double-strained it through fine mesh to help cover our tracks! The complex bitters adds an herbal anise note that works wonders with the allspice. It is truly worth the effort.

Curfew

Curfew

What spirit driven cocktail is as dark as the night is long, bittersweet, features a favorite (and often controversial) Italian Amaro as the base, and is surprisingly delicious if you are daring enough to try it? The Curfew cocktail.

Last night, while waiting for our table at Toro Bravo in Portland, Oregon, we had the pleasure of Jesse's service behind the bar at The Secret Society cocktail lounge. We love the old vibe of the place almost as much as the solid menu of perfectly executed classics—most of which have appeared here on Summit Sips at one time or another over the years. In addition to the comprehensive menu of choices by spirit category, some of the most interesting options are on the chalk boards above the bar. These seasonal selections are

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A New Reviews Menu

Teardrop

Changes are afoot at Summit Sips. We moved the Archives menu item to the navigation sidebar and added a Reviews link to the main menu above.

We have always believed that the best cocktails are those you make yourself, but we are often asked to suggest a bar or restaurant that serves a good drink. Over the course of several years we have collected photos, recipes and experiences from locations around the country. We decided it was finally time to compile those details into a comprehensive list and make our notes available to our readers.

Obviously, we have not been to every good bar in the world so the list is short and has an emphasis on those locations where we have spent the most time. Our plan is to let it grow, day by day, place by place. It's also a work in progress and

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Cranston

Cranston

One of our favorite go-to cocktails to beat the heat of summer is the Mint Julep. Nothing quite compares to recipes that employ crushed ice for a frosty glass. And while you sip, the drink gets satisfyingly smoother and colder! Previous features like the Pontarlier Julep, the Port Light, or even swizzles like this one or that one are perfect examples. Using our freshly-made fermented raspberry syrup, we made this little gem to add to the growing list.

The Cranston was created by New York bartender Rafa García Febles. Rafa is a prolific cocktail creator and writer of the DrunkLab blog. In this simple recipe, he takes rye whiskey and

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Raspberry Cocktails

Columbia Cocktail

Columbia Cocktail

There are so many ways to use fruit in cocktails. Muddling fresh produce may be the easiest, but you can also freeze it for use off-season. More traditional options include preserving fruit as jams, syrups, shrubs or even liqueurs. We've been busy this summer with all of nature's bounty, and we'll be sharing some of our exploits in the coming months. Today, let's talk about raspberry syrup.

Making a syrup from raspberries is easy enough. The simplest recipe follows a basic formula of one part fruit juice with one part sugar. However, we wanted to take an approach that may seem a little unorthodox. According to the Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide first published in 1862, it's better to add another step to the process. Fermenting the fruit juice for several days through natural processes (including the unrestricted

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St. Stephen's Sour

St Stephens Sour

We're all about refreshing summer drinks these days—the easier to make them the better. Most of the time that means tall, simple cocktails without many ingredients. Warmer weather usually pushes us toward refreshing citrus and carbonation as opposed to spirit-driven sippers, but we'd be kidding ourselves if we didn't admit that exceptions do exist. For instance, we can't stop enjoying a strong Mint Julep, nor resist the temptation of more complicated drinks like the Mai Tai. These never fall out of rotation for us, but this month's Imbibe Magazine (July/August 2014 issue) has a great selection of recipes that we probably need to add to our repertoire. One of them stood out as both refreshing and easy to make while still retaining a some complexity and interest. It was

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South Side Rickey

South Side Rickey Detail

Strictly speaking, a rickey is a highball cocktail that is not supposed to contain sugar—or at least it shouldn't if we are sticking to historical traditions. The style dates back before Prohibition when drinks were simpler and it was easier to categorize such details. When you mention the Rickey, most folks think of the Gin Rickey, a drink built in a Collins glass over ice. First, you squeeze a half ounce of fresh lime juice. Then, add two ounces of gin and top up with club soda. It's a decent drink that is both refreshing and easy to make—a nice combination for a hot summer day. It also works with other base spirits and gets renamed appropriately.

A couple months ago a batch of similar spring cocktails was published in the Oregonian. Some were more complicated, but one we recognized (in name at least). It was the South Side Rickey

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Negroni Week 2014

Norwegian Negroni

It's Negroni Week all over the world! It started on June 2nd and extends throughout the week to June 8th. At current count, 1271 participating bars are donating a portion of the sales of this featured cocktail to their chosen charities. At Summit Sips, we encourage everyone to support local businesses and charities everywhere by ordering a Negroni at participating establishments. For details as well as links to find locations near you, check out NegroniWeek.com. The event is presented by Imbibe Magazine in conjunction with Campari and was inspired by the Negroni Social event at Nostrana in Portland, Oregon. Of course, not everyone is familiar with the Negroni, so we thought we'd help get the word out and remind readers of some of our favorite posts featuring the Negroni or variants based on it.

Just over four years ago, we posted about the Negroni cocktail in detail.

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Le Coco

Le Coco

We love the "hunt" for ingredients to reproduce something delicious at home. Even after amassing an embarrassingly complete inventory of possibilities, this drink forced us to collect a few things we were missing. We recognize that not everyone will have the ingredients to make this cocktail—in fact, most of you probably won't—but for those of you adventurous enough chase down a few items—even if it means making some creative substitutions—please join us and share what you think of this unique creation.

First, we need to credit the drink's inventor, Tom Lindstedt, bar manager at Little Bird Bistro in Portland, OR. There are so many fantastic places to eat in Portland that it's almost impossible to justify returning to the same place twice, but we keep going back to Little Bird. So far, we have never had a single bite that wasn't totally satisfying and delicious (the cassoulet is wonderful!).

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Scottie Ferguson

Scottie Ferguson

Stocking a liquor cabinet is serious business. Space can limit decisions as much as budget, so we have always aligned with the idea that you should buy cocktails, not random bottles of booze. In other words, start with a drink recipe that you love and build your cabinet that way—recipe by recipe. This is great, in theory, but the allure of Italian bitters often trumps restraint. If you're as big of a fan as we are, you may have amassed quite a collection—cocktail recipes or not—grabbing almost every amaro you can find. But if you are just starting out, it can be difficult to decide what to buy first. Many of us are familiar with Campari, if even just for the Negroni and the Americano, but as we explore others, how do

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