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Greyhound, Salty Dog and Other Canine Cocktails

It's easy to criticize drinks like the Greyhound or the Screwdriver since they really don't require much in the way of mixing—add a measure of vodka to some larger measure of juice and serve it over ice. For those unfamiliar with these drinks, a Screwdriver is made using vodka and orange juice, and its partner, the Greyhound is the same drink only with grapefruit. Even the most inflexible mixology snob has to admit that these are basic highball cocktails—spirit and mixer served over ice, usually in a tall glass. There's no bitters to worry about, proportions are somewhat flexible, and you won't need to balance any sweet or sour. You could even build these over ice, right in the glass, so you probably don't need a shaker. Is it a complicated process? Obviously not. Will these drinks challenge your senses with deep, intriguing complexity? Hell no. So why might you

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Drink of the Week: Norwegian Negroni

It's easy to find inspiration in cocktail books or to look at other websites for ideas, but nothing quite compares to the sights, sounds and flavors of a working bar or restaurant. It affords you the opportunity to try something new and to sample ingredients you might not own. Since I happen to be traveling this week, I sought assistance from professionals for the Drink of the Week and I am pleased to share my experience from here in Portland, Oregon.

You may recall last year during a visit to the City of Roses (Bridges, Mountains, Cocktails, etc.) I had the chance to try a barrel-aged libation. This year, I set my sights on the Southeast side and made my way to Beaker & Flask. We sat at the end of the bar and ordered our first round from the menu. My wife selected the Fortunate Son, a

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Drink of the Week: Norwegian Wood

The first good sign of a decent cocktail bar is that they are using fresh ingredients. I'm not talking about lemon twists or lime wedges, I mean that they squeeze their fruit to make juice à la minute, and that they aren't using sour mix. But even if they take the time to use fresh citrus, it doesn't mean they know how to balance a drink. This is when a spirit-driven cocktail can save the day. A quick scan of the back bar may help you pick a winner without asking your bartender if they have this, that or the other thing. Of course, not all good drinks require obscure ingredients, but every once in a while you have to be willing to gather what you need yourself.

I can think of a few good bars in town that could make our drink of the week with what they

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Destination Portland: House Spirits Distillery

A selection of apothecary bottles at House Spirits Distillery

It may not look Like much from the outside—if not for the name painted in large letters across the building you might drive right by. You won't see rickhouses stacked with aging oak barrels. There's no farmland in sight and no thoroughbreds at pasture. It's just another commercial building on a regular city block of Portland's east side. But there's a little bit of magic happening behind this unassuming facade.

House Spirits Distillery was started in 2004 by Lee Medoff and Christian Krogstad, both of whom were beer makers in a town where you can hardly throw a handfull of malted barley in the air without it landing on a microbrewery. These guys took it to another level. Building upon their combined experience brewing and wine making, they started distilling, and within a year they launched Aviation, a successful

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Destination Portland: Clyde Common

Kimberly and I have a new favorite location for great food and even better cocktails, but it requires a little planning to get there from St. Paul. That's because this destination is all the way over the Rocky Mountains in Portland, Oregon. The object of our affection is Clyde Common, a Downtown/Pearl District hot spot that is helping to define the cocktail revolution.

Before I jump right into the cocktails, it's important to mention that first and foremost, Clyde Common is a restaurant. The decor has a basic, modern look that reminds me of a warehouse. The stenciled labels on the wall identify the "KITCHEN" or the "BAR" with a somewhat industrial look that is softened by wooden tables and candles glowing from every corner.

We were seated in front of the open kitchen at a huge table that seats perhaps 20 guests. This "common" seating arrangement was interesting,

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