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The Lowlands

We've been itching to construct a drink that uses Brancamenta. It's not the easiest liqueur to mix—think Fernet-Branca with a little more sugar and a refreshing blast of peppermint. If you like Fernet, Brancamenta is an easy sipper, and if Fernet always seems too bitter or intense, Brancamenta will be far more approachable. The only problem is that not many cocktails are out there that use it.

Over the years, we've collected lots of notes and clippings of various recipes we use for inspiration. Today, we dug up something we captured off the pages of the Oregonian last year. Back in August, they ran a story about carbonated cocktails. Naturally, we filed away these details hoping to try a few of the featured recipes this summer. So, here we are looking at a drink created last year by Brandon Wise back when he was bar manager at Imperial.

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Naked and Famous

There's a great passage in the new Death & Co cocktail book that describes the process they use for vetting new additions to the menu. It's basically an interactive taste test with one bartender whipping up a new drink and all of the others making suggestions about proportions or ingredients. It helped us realize that perfecting a new recipe is often an iterative process, and settling on a final list of ingredients can be collaborative, but requires that one has access to (if not knowledge of) a vast array of possibilities. Sure, it's possible to hit incredible combinations right off the bat, but craft cocktail bars can even explore alternative brands allowing a recipe to be perfected to an extreme that most customers probably never realize—and it doesn't always lead to choices that are the most expensive or obscure.

Here's an agave recipe that caught our eye from the

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First Word

Several years ago we wrote about the Last Word cocktail. If you haven't had the pleasure, you really should give it a try, especially if you are already a fan of the Aviation. Besides having a name befitting any New Year's Eve celebration, the Last Word contains some of our favorite ingredients—Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and green Chartreuse. As we transition from the end of one calendar year to the beginning of another, we decided to post a similar cocktail that we recently tried at one of our favorite restaurants in Portland, Oregon.

The First Word cocktail was featured on the fall menu at Toro Bravo. A little research will reveal that it's not an original name. There are several First Word recipes out there and none of them resembles this one.

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Ground Cherry Daiquiri

If you've never heard of them, ground cherries are odd little yellow-orange berries that look like miniature tomatillos. About the size and shape of a cranberry, they are firm and smooth, but like the tomatillo, they have a papery shroud over the fruit. The plant on which they grow apparently looks like a short tomato shrub, but here's the thing: they don't really taste like tomatoes at all. How does strawberry, pineapple, or maybe kiwi sound? We first discovered them three weeks ago at Bar Avignon in SE Portland. The ground cherries were served as part of an appetizer that we ordered and were meant to be paired with the cheese on the plate. Peeling open each light husk revealed the fruit inside, and after just one bite we knew we had to make a drink out of them. Fortunately, we found Naked

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Rhubarb Blush

We have a lot of content to add to our compilation of bar reviews. There are so many great places to order cocktails Portland, Oregon and the list keeps on growing. One favorite restaurant is Pok Pok and what is often considered the Pok Pok waiting room—the Whiskey Soda Lounge. Here's one of their drink recipes that is easy to make and quenches the heat of a hot, spicy meal.

In the right season, rhubarb bitters are easy to make at home. Otherwise, you may be able to find Fee Brothers at your local shop. Once you do, pulling together this refreshing recipe is simple. Just combine equal portions of gin, lime and Aperol with a few dashes of bitters. Shake with crushed once and dump the whole works into a tall glass and garnish with

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Montego Bay

During 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

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South Side Rickey

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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