Forget the juniper-flavored ethyl alcohol most associated with mass-produced gins. Portland's Aviation flies at a higher altitude. A dry gin, made by the Portland-based House Spirits, Aviation relies more on florals and savory notes—lavender, cardamom, anise, Indian sarsaparilla—rather than the traditional juniper berry; this means it is perfect alone, or with soda water and a wedge of lime, or in a summer cocktail. Seven years in, what started as a regional distillery has grown into a national enterprise. And a recent bottle redesign means Aviation now comes in a handsome thick, clear glass bottle, which runs about $30 at most liquor stores. The Aviation website boasts that Wine Enthusiast scored the delicate spirit the "top gin with a 97 rating. That's five points higher than Hendrick's or Bombay Sapphire." Agreed. We'll take Aviation over those other gins any day. JW
"It tastes like walking through the High Desert," said a somewhat tipsy friend of mine after sipping the Seattle-based company's gin. While each batch has slight variances, Counter's distinguishing feature is its remarkably robust, a touch musky and entirely enjoyable juniper presence. Although Mr. Williams may prefer Aviation's floral gin (see next-door review), Counter was a crowd-pleaser specifically because the juniper had such a presence; like eating oysters can transport a person to a specific patch of the ocean, this gin carried an entire panoply of wind-scrubbed desert landscape with each taste. "Whoa," said another friend, "I'd sip this over ice." With ginger beer and mint, Counter was a fun, refreshing summer drink. PB
Now this is bourbon! Delicious, woodsy and smooth, it certainly didn't hurt my impression of New Holland Brewing's Beer Barrel Bourbon that while I was sipping a glass on ice, I was watching the sun set over the backs of the three Sisters mountains and listening to banjo-jam bands at the 4Peaks Music Festival.
The tag line on Beer Barrel Bourbon reads, "Whiskey barrels make great beer, it's time beer returns the favor." The effect is a sweet, smooth finish followed by the traditional bourbon chest burn.
The oak barrels used for finishing are from New Holland Brewing's own Dragon's Milk beer, a 10% ABV American stout brewed with Michigan beet sugar that itself is aged in second-use Heaven Hill bourbon oak barrels. After a 90-day soak, the Beer Barrel Bourbon takes on a new layer of flavor and a smooth malty finish, well worth the $35 price tag. Upcycling double win! BB
For more craft cocktails, check out the NW Sprits and Mixology Show
Saturday, June 29 - 11 am
Part of the Bite of Bend, downtown between Bond and Lava.
Sample over 150 varieties of whiskey, brandy, liqueurs, vodka, gin, mezcal, tequila and rum representing the Northwest and beyond.
Like the Source on Facebook for a chance to win passes to the show.
Delicious Cocktail Recipes, reader submitted
White Cap: Mix a mug of white hot chocolate per instructions. Add 1.5 shots of Bulleit bourbon and a splash of peppermint schnapps if desired. Drink at night before bed!
Pabst Smear: 1 pint Pabst Blue Ribbon, 1 tbl Tequila Rose for color, 1 tbl Kahlua (to suggest clotting) DO NOT STIR!
— Tim Tigersblood Vester
Gila Monster: 1 1/2 ounces Midori
2 ounce favorite vodka
2 ounces sour mix
1 1/2 ounces lime juice
Splash of carbonated lemon-lime beverage
Splash of orange juice
— Madelyn Gillespie Driver
Yummy & Easy Margarita
6 oz tequila
4 oz triple sec
2 oz Rose's lime juice
Rim a hurricane glass lip with salt (moisten with some lime juice). Add the tequila, triple sec and Rose's lime juice, then fill the rest of the glass with ice cubes until the level of liquor reaches the salt-rimmed top.
Ingredients: Lemon-flavored vodka (360 Sorrento Lemon works best), Any kind of strawberry daiquiri mix, lemon juice, Tequila, sugar and whipped cream.
2 shots of vodka
1 shot of tequila
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of sugar
Add strawberry daiquiri mix to your liking. Mix and add some ice and top off with whipped cream.
PERFECT for a summer day.
1.25 oz Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka
.25 oz gold tequila
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz triple sec
Shake, strain into a chilled glass.