The Second Annual Mixology event will blockade three blocks of Minnesota Avenue, filling the street with booths from a few dozen distilleries and providing three fully staffed bars with some of the sharpest bartenders in the region. But this is not Mardi Gras (leave the beads at home, hussie); a satellite to Bite of Bend, the Northwest Spirits and Mixology Show showcases craft gin, vodka, whiskeys and tequila.
For $10, sample some 50-plus distilleries; learn the different textures of tequila and the role that juniper berries can play in the taste of gin. Many of the liquors presented are small-batch, hand-crafted concoctions, and quite a few businesses are family-run.
"Most people come to these events and say, 'It feels like it did 20 years ago for beer,' " explains Kelly Kerbs, the energetic organizer of the event.
The event includes a Bartender Brawl on Saturday, June 29. Four bartenders have worked their way through regional competitions for a chance at a $1,000 prize here. Jake Bliven from The Barn Light in Eugene is the closest to a hometown favorite, but there also are competitors from Skillet Diner in Seattle (with a promising concoction called "Life After Death"), from Portland's Woodsman Tavern and from Baume & Brix in Chicago.
The staff at the Source started early, tasting tequilas dropped off by Kerbs. Our favorite was Orgullo Charro. Dubbed by one of our event planners, "the chardonnay of tequila," Orgullo Charro is a buttery smooth gold tequila imported by J.J. Company in Winston, Ore. A warm first sip and a long finish, this tequila required no lime or salt.
Another pleaser was 88 Premium (blanco), but better for mixing than sipping; it presented more heat up front, but it settled nicely and warmly. SW
Pour a healthy tumbler full of tequila (about 2 cups) into container. Mince two cayenne peppers (red preferred) and sprinkle into tequila "pool." (Note to self: Wash hands thoroughly and do not rub eyes vigorously until you have done so.) Slice a cucumber and lay several cuts into the container. Pull off four or five basils leafs, give them a spank (to release flavors) and add to the mix. Cover and chill for three hours.
Strain (so that you don't have chunks of peppers and swampy basil in your tequila). Pour one part ginger ale, one part infused tequila in an iced glass.
Mix sea salt and cumin on a saucer. Prep a tall tumbler glass by wetting its rim and lightly circling the rim with the salt and cumin dusting.
One part simple syrup (i.e., sugar boiled into water), one part ginger ale and one part gin, this simple summer drink is given a slight bite and Bombay flavor from its spiced rim.
Submit your clever cocktail recipes and win passes to the 2013 Northwest Spirits & Mixology Festival! June 29 & 30, downtown at Bite of Bend. Send to email@example.com or post on the Source's Facebook.