Down the Tequila Trail

It is time for another Great Taste Tour and this time we ventured back to the land of Tequila.  We set our sights on Mexico to hopefully learn more about the mystique behind what makes this agave nectar so amazing.  We had a great group of people that consisted of many from Oregon and few from North Carolina, overall it was a very well rounded group of liquor store owners and employees. 

We arrived in Guadalajara on a Sunday and I was immediately reminded of what a beautiful city it is.  The


$300 Spanish Coffee: but do I get free refills?

H50 Bistro & Bar in the stylish boutique Hotel Fifty in downtown Portland, OR, announced it would be featuring one of the most expensive cups of coffee in the city.  Not a mean feat in this city of coffee purists!
The H50 Bistro & Bar is something of a hangout for the stylish set (that's where they were their flannel shirts pressed) and now there's a coffee drink for their delectation.

But not just any coffee drink!  One of the most popular coffee concoctions in the city of Portland for some years now is Spanish Coffee, so the H50 has created a $300 Spanish Coffee.


New Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper: where the sweet meets the heat

Southern Comfort and Tabasco Hot Sauce, two revered New Orleans traditions, are getting together.
Looks like that traditional whiskey-based cocktail of N'awlins history is sweet on Tabasco, the other New Orleans tradition, and it’s getting hot and steamy down in the French Quarter.

At first glance it may seem an unusual relationship, what with Southern Comfort’s deep whiskey voice and peachy, fruity style---it’s smooth, but it’s sweet---matching up with the hot and fiery cayenne of the legndary


Tequila: It’s as simple as 1…2…3

The irrepressible and enthusiastic David Ravandi, a telling combination of practical and romantic mixed up in one persona, visited Portland this week to speak long and lovingly about his primary passion: his new Tequila brand, Uno Dos Tres.
Ravandi had a three part vision for his new tequila: First, it had to be organically made and organically certified.  Second, it had to be only of the finest quality.  And third, it had to be done in the authentic and traditional style of original tequila from the heartland of tequila.
Looks like he succeeded on all three counts.

Organically Certified
Despite romantic wishful thinking, Mexico is not largely organic. Quite the opposite, actually.  Poor and undeveloped is not the same thing as organic, and agrarian countries tend to depend fairly heavily on


Agave Spirits--- Tequila or Mezcal, it’s a growth market

©Hoke Harden February 2011

Anyone who has been paying the slightest bit of attention the last ten years or so has noticed the explosive growth of Tequila in the U.S. market.

Here’s some more news:  that growth is going to continue.  But it isn’t just Tequila that’s going to continue, and not just in the U.S.   Mezcal has entered the mix, so it’s now about the entire agave spirits category.  And agave has gone global, so it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

Did you know….there are six different agave spirits produced in Mexico?  Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol, Raicilla, Bacanora, and Comiteca.  The only two exported in significant numbers to the U.S. are Tequila and Mezcal; the others remain largely local.  So far.


Warming Winter Drinks

by Hoke Harden

The idea of serving alcoholic drinks to warm up the winter chill is as old as winter itself.  First it was warmed up cider and wine and ale, because…well, because that’s all they had.  Later, when distillation was discovered, spirits were added to boost the brew a bit.  As other beverages came along the universe of warming winter drinks expanded constantly.  Now there is a dizzying array available to warm your day and your spirits.  Let’s look at a few of them, both ancient and modern.

The Ancient Wassail
The ancient tradition of the wassail bowl came from our Anglo-Saxon cousins.  Wassail itself derives from the Saxon waes hael, which meant to your health.


Any extra CASH laying around?

Tequila Herradura, one of the oldest and most respected 100 percent blue agave tequila brands since 1870, announces the launch of its exclusive Buy-the-Barrel program, an exceptional opportunity for tequila connoisseurs to order their very own Herradura Double Barrel Reposado. When bottled, each barrel yields approximately 240 bottles of specially crafted tequila reposado aged for an additional month, ensuring every ounce captures flavors and notes directly drawn from the selected barrels.

Connoisseurs have the option of traveling (at their own expense) to the Hacienda near Guadalajara, Mexico, to select their own Herradura Double Barrel Reposado. Once chosen, the tequila is placed in bottles adorned with personalized labels, including the purchaser’s name, number and bottling date. The barrel itself then is varnished, branded and shipped with a framed certificate of ownership. Price per barrel is approximately $10,000 and the order process takes about 45-60 days.

The all-natural aging process, rooted on 140 years of dedication to the craft and tradition, begins with 100 percent blue Weber agave rested in toasted oak barrels for 11 months, creating Herradura Reposado’s distinct color with a cinnamon and oak aroma that provokes a rich and smooth taste. To enhance this tequila, it is matured for an additional month in a new toasted barrel handmade specifically for this extra aging. This process provides the tequila’s uncommon smoothness and complex flavor notes of cooked agave, dried fruits and sweet brown spice.

“We are proud to introduce Casa Herradura’s first Buy-the-Barrel program, which embraces the tequila aficionado and includes them in our celebrated selection process,” said Mark Bacon, director of Casa Herradura Tequilas in North America. “We felt it was important for us, as a tequila institution, to share the art of making this fine spirit with our valued customers, such as Emmitt Smith. We believe this program provides a great opportunity to partake in an unrivaled experience with our supporters as they select a unique expression of our tequila.”


Calisaya Redux

Calisaya Redux: re-tasting the Tuscan traditional liqueur made in Oregon
Calisaya Liqueur
Hoke Harden

When Calisaya Liqueur was first introduced to the Oregon market, it made a tremendous impact.  An authentic Tuscan-styled liqueur with a characteristic bitter tang from natural cinchona bark (the same Peruvian bark that was used to make quinine for treating malaria and other tropical diseases and grew so widespread that it became a favored flavor in vermouths and bitter aperitivi and digestivi in Europe), made in artisanal batches in the heart of western Oregon, the taste profile was unique, and the quality level astounding.

Since the first release, Calisaya has become a staple on the backbar and in some engaging cocktails in the upscale lounges.

So it was time to renew acquaintance with this delicious liqueur.  At the recently concluded Oregon Spirits Trade Show, which showcased a range of some of Oregon’s finest craft distiller’s offerings, the Calisaya beckoned.

Good news: Calisaya is still the brilliant and compelling aperitif/digestif as when it first was created.  The style may have lightened just a bit on the bitters, but only slightly---Americans aren’t (yet) as generally fond of bitter drinks as the Europeans---and the rich, aromatic orange essence has intensified in balance.

The owner/creator, Andrea Loreto, reported that Calisaya had changed its base of operations from Cottage Grove to Eugene, but that nothing else had changed.  It’s still made by hand in small batches with the intense personal involvement of the man who created the liqueur to honor his ancestry and heritage---and so he’d have plenty of his family’s Tuscan warmth in his own house. The carefully selected oranges are still used (primarily for the pungent oil in their thick skins), as is the Peruvian Cinchona Bark for its distinctive bitterness.  And there is still an abbondanza of spicy delights, including cinnamon, cardamom-grapefruit, vanilla-oak and other more elusive teases of floral-fruit that add to the complex palate.

Calisaya remains a true Tuscan tradition that is a unique product of Oregon, and the quality remains unparalleled. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should do so.  It is currently available in the OLCC liquor stores as well as select bars and lounges throughout Oregon.


Managing Editor:  Oregon Spirits Digest (Winter 2011)


A Modern Day Honey Liquer with Medieval roots

You’ve seen whiskey and honey liqueur.  You’ve seen brandy and honey liqueur.  Now check out the original honey liqueur that dates back to the Middle Ages in Europe.
In Medieval Germany there was a select band of rugged and doughty hunters who sought bears in the dark forests and mountains.  These bear hunters…literally, Bärenjägers…had a guild secret that helped them lure the bears, a special sweet mead called “mechkinnes”made from sweet, fragrant honey and woodland herbs.

The Bärenjägers also learned that, in addition to luring the bears they hunted, it was pretty tasty for humans and warmed the spirit on cold, dank nights in the deep forests.

Eventually, a version of this fabled drink named after the bearhunters became a standard tipple for the locals and then widely known to traders and visitors to the area.

Now this fabled liqueur, still popular in Europe, is finding its way to America as well and can be found in many States.

The curious oddity of this famous medieval drink?  Nowadays it is made from New World honey: to be specific, a particularly fragrant honey from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Bärenjäger is found in select bars as well. Many upper end cocktail establishments are happy to concoct a luscious cocktail based on Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur.  Drop in and try one.

Hopefully, there won’t be any bears around.

Managing Editor:  Oregon Spirits Digest (coming Winter '11)


Authentic Caribbean Rum - Welcome to the Islands Mon!

Brugal Anejo Rum
Brugal Anejo Rum
Photo Credit: 
Hoke Harden

Everything old is new again.  Things move in and out of fashion.  Cycles and trends change. Nostalgia brings things back, and new generations embrace old concepts.  Tiki is back, and so is rum.  But some things remain constant even in the middle of change.

(Re)discover a constant with Brugal Añejo Rum.  It’s an old, familiar friend to rum aficionados and just now being enjoyed by the new generation.  It’s neither expensive nor terribly cheap (at $26.10/750ml in Oregon).  It’s not particularly flashy or nouveau with its very traditional packaging and the kitschy (but charming) touch of the old-fashioned wire mesh around the bottle.

But Brugal is something of a success story for dedicated creators of fine spirits: a family product that has been made---and is still being made---by the same family in the Dominican Republic since 1888, and continues to enjoy the claim of “#1 Rum in the Caribbean”.  When you’re #1 in the place that makes the most and drinks the most rum, that’s saying something!

The history and process of authentic Caribbean Rum. Credit: Authentic Caribbean Rum--YouTube
Brugal Añejo is a traditional golden rum, a blend of aged rums from 4—5 year old American white oak casks.  The amber or golden style of rum has been much abused in recent years by the big concerns that simply use extra food coloring to connote age but offer up not much more than young white rum with color but very little flavor.  Brugal, though, harkens back to the original golden rum: the clean, soft flavors of rum enhanced with the flavors of burnt sugar, caramel, butter and toasty vanilla from the barrel aging.

Brugal Añejo is one of the best of the “multiple duty” rums.  It performs beautifully as a stand-alone sipper, but excels as a mixer, accommodating itself to a wide range of mixed drinks and cocktails, from rum punches to mojitos to mai tais.  With that versatility it is an ideal choice for a “go to” rum in anyone’s bar. If you are already a tiki fan, or in the process of becoming one, Brugal Añejo is an old standard that could become a new standard for you.


Dick's Mix - for the Agave Margarita Connoisseur

Richard Dooley is a Tucson Renaissance man – a registered nurse, an artist, a Friday bartender at La Paloma Country Club and an entrepreneur with his creation “Dick’s Premiumargarita Mix.”

As an advocate for handmade cocktails with natural components, Dooley drew inspiration for his margarita mix based on the premise that Southwestern margaritas ought to be comprised of fresh ingredients. 

“I’ve always liked margaritas. So, I began mixing a bunch of things generally based on the knowledge that the combination of several ingredients often makes a better product than just pouring one product, it gives a better balance – so I made a concoction with fresh lime juice and lemonade, some other mixes, the essence of limes, lemons and oranges,” Dooley explains.

“The other thing that is a clincher is using agave nectar, because tequila is made from the agave plant and agave nectar is a sweetener that has a lower glycemic index. That, with some raw sugar imported from Mexico.”

It took Dooley three to four years to develop his formula and Dick’s Mix finally hit the shelves last September. The process culminated with Dooley whittling down several blends to four recipes last summer and inviting margarita-loving friends to a taste testing session in order to suss out a consensus.
“I realize it’s just margarita mix, it’s not rocket science. But it’s not easy to get the proportion of sweet and sour right,” Dooley explicates. “I wouldn’t say that I was working hard every day on it; I was going to nursing school. Once I became an RN, I was putting a little more time into it.”

While the mix is only available locally at three Tucson locations – Maynard’s Market, 400 N. Toole Ave., Rincon Market, 2513 E. 6th St. and The Rumrunner, 3131 E. 1st St. – it is something to seek out if you are interested in a quality mix to complement your 100% agave tequila. As Dooley says, this isn’t for the volume drinker; it is for people with a discerning palate who want an authentic margarita experience and especially for impressing out of town visitors.

Impress them you will, as Dick’s Mix adroitly walks the tightrope of tart and sweet that is oh so delicious, brimming with fresh ingredients that viscerally convey the spring sunshine.

On Trends in Mixology: “Old-style cocktails like the Side Car and the martini. What what makes a martini good is to shake it hard with a lot of ice and splinter that ice. Then when you pour it, you have a nice layer of ice crystals floating on top. That first sip is the most important. That ice needs to lift and melt, that’s the essence of the martini – as it passes over your tongue and down your throat, then the flavors rise up and you taste it through your olfactory senses.”

Favorite Ingredients: “Citrus juices are great in drinks. Keep it simple, make it fresh, it is always better to build a drink by hand.”

Signature Drink: The Dick’s Premiumargarita (single, on the rocks)

In a 16oz pint glass, 2/3 full of ice, add in this order:
1.  4oz of sparkling water (Perrier, Pellegrino, club soda)
2.  1.5oz of 100% agave tequila
3.  1.5oz of Dick's PremiumargaritaTM Mix
4.  1oz of premium orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, Prunier, Gran Gala)
5.  Squeeze of a lime

Follow Dick Dooley at DicksMix.net and on Facebook. 

photo credit and article written: Jamie Manser // thezmag.com


New "Tequila Train" Gives Behind the Scenes Look of Mexico's Famous Drink

Take a trip on a train that'll bring you near the foot of the Tequila Volcano in Mexico, where you'll find the Blue Agave plantations that are the source of Mexico's world renowned alcoholic beverage.

The new Tequila Train is the second of its kind and will begin operating in April in the southwestern state of Jalisco, giving tourists a first-hand look at the world famous tequila plantations.

The tour will begin around midday at a train station dating back to the late 19th century that Tequila Cuervo La Rojeña, maker of the world famous Jose Cuervo brand, is renovating outside Guadalajara, Jalisco's capital.
The train will return in the afternoon so the tourists can admire the view as the sun sets over the greenish-blue, agave-dominated landscape.

A project conceived of by Tequila Cuervo La Rojeña, the train will begin running on April 1 under a different concept than the Tequila Express - a tourist train operated by


Spiced Rum - hip AND delicious

From classic cocktails to tiki riffs, this historic spirit is back on the modern mixologist’s menu.

Photo Credit: Jon Van Gorder
Photo Credit: Jon Van Gorder

Just a few years ago, to be offered a choice of spiced rums for your cocktail was unthinkable.
But now, floated by a rum renaissance and the explosion of tiki culture, a number of new spiced rums have been introduced—and fresh cocktails are being created to showcase the expanded range.

“Spiced rum is not a fad,” declares rum expert, importer and advocate Ed Hamilton. “The tradition of adding fruit and spice to rum is almost as old as Caribbean rum itself.”

However, the island tradition was typically for spiced rums made at home, or sold at local rum shops. Only a handful were brought to the U.S., most notably Captain Morgan, which was introduced to the U.S. in 1983 and is credited with creating the spiced rum category. Indeed, “Captain & Coke” remains one of the most popular mixed drink calls at bars across the country.

In 2008 and 2009, driven in large part by the escalating tiki craze, a flurry of new spiced rum brands hit the shelves, jumping from just a handful of brands available in the U.S. to 60 to 75 brands in 2009, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. The category has narrowed in recent months, leaving 45 to 55 brands of spiced rum at the end of 2010, but those remaining brands have taken a larger bite of the marketplace. Spiced rum now accounts for 33% of the total rum market (about 9.2 million cases), DISCUS says, compared to 29% of the total rum market one year earlier (about 7.2 million cases).

Rum experts like Martin Cate, owner of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, a tiki bar noted for its staggering collection of 200-plus rums, point to a surge in rum overall. “Rum has had such a decade of new brands and older brands coming to our shores for the first time,” Cate explains. “It’s a great time for rum. And the spiced rums have been going along to stake their claim,” many with deliberate intent to plunder some of the Captain’s market share.

Many of these new-breed rums deserve closer attention, particularly dry-style rums like Sailor Jerry and Cruzan 9, a welcome change since spiced rum often gets a bad rap for its supersweet profile. Sweet styles have been popular


Lick Responsibly - Bourbon & Peach Popsicles

Faster than you can say “cupcake fatigue,” gourmet popsicles have become the latest fully saturated food trend. Now you don’t even have to leave your house to have them. here’s a DIY home brew popsicle recipe with an adult twist.

Don’t be fooled by the Lolita-esque styling of these pops. The crushed peaches in these popsicles were soaked in a bourbon bath to cool you down and chill you out. Mix it with a little simple syrup and some plain yogurt and you’ll have cocktail popsicles in just a few freezing hours.

Bourbon Peaches and Cream Popsicles

Makes 18-22 popsicles

· 1 cup ripe peaches, crushed
· ¼ cup Buck brand bourbon
· ½ cup simple syrup, cooled (recipe follows)
· 2 cups plain yogurt


1. Peel and slice peaches. Use a potato masher to crush the peaches. Combine crushed peaches and bourbon in a bowl, mix to combine. Add the simple syrup in slowly and taste to preference. Add yogurt to bourbon peach mixture and combine.
2. Score top edge of Dixie cup with scissors for easy peeling. Pour mixture into Dixie cups. Freeze for two hours or until mixture starts to solidify enough to hold a popsicle stick upright. Continue to freeze until mixture is completely frozen into a popsicle, about 5-6 hours. Peel off Dixie cups. Serve.

Simple Syrup
· ¼ cup water
· ¼ sugar


1. Place water and sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves.

A few notes:
· Use the simple syrup sparingly. Taste the mixture as you mix to make sure it’s to your liking. Use more for a sweeter tasting popsicle and less for a popsicle that will have a stronger bourbon flavor.

· If you do not have ripe peaches on hand, use canned peaches in light syrup (make sure to drain before use). If you use canned peaches, bypass the simple syrup.

· To shave some time, use vanilla yogurt instead of plain yogurt to skip the simple syrup portion. Keep in mind this version will be much sweeter as vanilla flavored yogurt is sweetened. If you are using this in combination with canned peaches, rinse the peaches and add 2-3 tablespoons bourbon in addition to the ¼ cup in the recipe. The added tablespoons will offset any sweetness that may overpower the bourbon.

Our thanks to:  http://www.bakersroyale.com


MEDOYEFF Vodka - an American/Russian Vodka - "Na zdorovje"


The practice of drinking vodka with mixers and ice is wholly western in origin.  There is no cocktail culture in Eastern Europe. They drink their Vodka straight and therefore look for natural flavor and mouth feel from the raw vodka.  It's with this in mind that Bull Run Distillery has created Medoyeff Vodka, the first Russian-American vodka.

Using what he learned from his visits to Russian and Ukrainian vodka distilleries years ago, their head distiller uses a combination of charcoal and limestone to slowly filtering every drop of Medoyeff. This process removes any impurities, while retaining the natural character of the spirit. In fact, the limestone actually imparts a subtle minerally character to the finish that adds to the overall taste and complexity of Medoyeff. The resulting spirit is so unmistakably Russian you're libel to shout "Na zdorovje" after just a sip.   

Tasting Notes
  • Sight: clear and viscous
  • Nose: clean, anise, herbal
  • Initial Palate: slight sweet and spicy
  • Mouth Feel: bright and bracing, full, weighty and lingering
  • Finishing Palate: mineral notes, needle, clean
How Best to Enjoy
  • Straight...as a perfect companion to food
  • With a citrus twist...we like grapefruit
  • In your favorite cocktail...try a classic
  • Always from the freezer...no matter how you drink it
Current Availability
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Washington State
  • Washington DC
                               MEDOYEFF VODKA

MEDOYEFF MULE (A wonderful version of the Moscow Mule)
Medoyeff_bottle.jpgThe Moscow Mule is responsible for kicking off the vodka craze in the United States during the 1950s, when Gin was the preferred white liquor. Mix vodka and lime juice in a pint mixing glass, ice, shake and strain over fresh ice in a tall glass or traditional copper mug and top with ginger beer.
  • 2 oz MEDOYEFF Vodka
  • 1 oz fresh limejuice
  • 3 oz ginger Beer (we like Cock n' Bull)
  • Garnish with a slice of lime

RUSSIAN WOLFHOUND (A Fabulous version of the Greyhound)
This grapefruit and vodka cocktail is an ideal choice for a summertime brunch. Serve in a tall glass with ice.
  • 2 oz MEDOYEFF Vodka
  • 4 oz fresh ruby grapefruit Juice
  • 2 dashes grapefruit or rhubarb bitters (Fee Brothers)
  • Garnish with a grapefruit twist

This one is bitter cold, but like the Siberian winter it's named for, it's also beautiful and long lasting as this is a slow-sipping cocktail. Build and stir with ice and strain into a martini glass.
  • 1 oz MEDOYEFF Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Campari
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Lemon twist for garnish

This one is bloody good, especially as a companion to a hardy breakfast. Mix all ingredients together in a tall glass with ice.
  • 2 oz MEDOYEFF Vodka
  • 4 oz extra spicy tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix
  • 1 oz plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp freshly grated onion
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 shakes of celery salt
  • Garnish with pickled green beans

Named for the number of ingredients, Cynar alone has thirteen, this cocktail is beautifully balanced and addictive.  
  • 3 oz MEDOYEFF Vodka
  • 1 oz Cynar Artichoke Bitters
  • 1 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • Server over ice or shake with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit. 

The vodka verson on the gin based Negroni.  
  • 1 oz MEDOYEFF Vodka
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz Campari
  • Stir wtih ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a slice of orange.

Only the best Martini on the planet...at least that's what we think.  
  • 2.5 oz MEDOYEFF Vodka
  • .5 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 3 Olives for garnish (Go ahead and make it dirty if that's how you roll.) 


Refreshing Summer Cocktails!

1.  Mule:
  • 1 1/4 Ounce high quality Vodka
  • Ginger Beer
  • Fresh Limes for juicing
Rim large martini glass with Red Lime Rokz Cocktail Rim Salt.  Fill with ice.  Pour in Vodka, fill with ginger beer, squeeze in a generous squeeze of lime juice.
2.  Strawberry Gin Fizz:
  • 2 ounces strawberry infused Gin (mash 3 strawberries into each 2 ozs. Gin - let stand overnight - strain) 
  • 1 Teaspoon Powdered Sugar 
  • Club Soda (chilled well)

Pour the infused gin into an ice filled shaker and add powdered sugar and lime juice.
Shake vigorously.  Pour into White Wine Glass - top with soda & garnish with lemon twist.

3.  Pina Colada Gelato Cocktail:

  • 1/4 cup crushed ice
  • 1 scoop coconut gelato
  • 1 oz. dark rum
  • 1 oz. coconut rum
  • 1/2 cup pineapple (canned or fresh)

Add the ice, coconut gelato, dark rum, coconut rum and pineapple to a blender and mix until smooth. Pour into a highball glass and garnish with a slice of pineapple. You can also rim your glass with sugar, if preferred.

4.  Tangerine Jalepeno Cocktail:
  • 2 ounces jalapeno infused high quality tequila (see recipe below**)
  • 1/2 tangerine
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar

Tools Needed: jar, muddler, cocktail shaker, small cooking strainer.

**(Infusion time: 24 hours)
- Pour half of a bottle of organic tequila into a jar that can be completely sealed. Slice 2 organic Jalapeno Peppers lengthwise in half and place in the tequila. Seal the jar and place in a dark area (pantry or cupboard). Let sit for 24 hours then use a small strainer to remove the jalapenos and their seeds. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tip: Use 1/2 of a bottle of tequila for the infusion. That way, if the tequila is too spicy for you or a guest, you can dilute it with the remaining tequila.

5.  Sangria Margarita:
  • 8 oz tequila
  • 12 oz margarita mix
  • 2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3 oz triple sec
  • 3 - 5 oz sangria

(Serves four) Pour the tequila, margarita mix, lime juice and triple sec into an average sized blender filled with crushed ice, and blend well. Dip rim of a 16-oz. margarita glass in the blender to wet, and apply salt if desired. Pour the blender mixture into the glass until 2/3 full, add the sangria gently over the back of a spoon to float, and serve.
6.   Market Gimlet:
  • 2 ounces high quality Vodka
  • 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce tarragon infused agave nectar (see recipe below**)
  • one 1/2 inch slice cucumber (for muddling)
  • one thin slice cucumber (for garnish)

Muddle thicker cucumber slice in a cocktail shaker.  Add vodka, juice, lime juice and infused tarragon nectar.  Add ice.  Shake hard and strain into a hi-ball glass filled with ice. Garnish with thin cucumber slice.

**  Tarragon infused Agave Nectar:  In a saucepan - toss in one small bunch tarragon stems and leaves (8 branches).  Add  8 ounces Agave Nectar.  Heat to a boil.  Remove from heat and let stand 45 minutes to one hour.  Strain through cheesecloth.

Written by Laura Johnson // SK2R Publishing


Mixing Cocktails with Foraged Botanicals - OREGON

Oregon is considered the birthplace of craft distilling, home to a growing legion of distillers who are changing the way we think about cocktails. Columbine Quillen, a cutting edge mixologist from The Blacksmith in Bend, often heads east to find botanicals on the Oregon trail, then concocts an Oregon Bounty cocktail with the fruits of her forage.


The Conestoga Cocktail - featuring Vermouth and Bitters you make on your own

The Conestoga can be made entirely from ingredients that grow in Eastern Oregon (except for the whiskey, but you can use an Oregon-made whiskey like House Spirits. To make this drink, first you must make a “vermouth” and a bitters.


  • Malheur Forest Vermouth:
  • 2 ounces of whiskey (or any high-proof spirit)
  • 1 - 5 strawberries (If you are using mountain strawberries, they are small and you will need three to five. If you are using store bought strawberries, one or two should do the trick.)
  • 15 huckleberries
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 2 ounces of white wine
  • Painted Hills Bitters:
  • 4 ounces of whiskey (or any high-proof spirit)
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 25 juniper pine needles
  • About a thimble’s worth of sage
  • The white innards from one purple sage
  • The Conestoga:
  • 2 ounces of whiskey
  • ¼ ounce of Malheur Forest Vermouth
  • 3 dashes of Painted Hills Bitters


Malheur Forest Vermouth:
Allow the strawberries and huckleberries to soak in the whiskey for three days in the refrigerator. After three days, strain the fruit pulp from the spirit. Add the honey and white wine.

Painted Hills Bitters:
Allow the ingredients to steep together for three weeks. You do not have to refrigerate. After three weeks, strain the liquid from the solids and you will have delightful bitters.

The Conestoga:
Stir and serve with your favorite garden flower as a garnish.


Big Bottom Whiskey

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake"

-W.C. Fields

Big Bottom Whiskey hand selects only the finest whiskeys from around the country for all connoisseurs to savor. Enjoyed neat or in a classic cocktail, their rich and sophisticated whiskeys offer a brilliant introduction into the whiskey world.

Big Bottom Whiskey is an independent bottler. They strive to work under the same philosophies of independent bottlers in Scotland. Big Bottom Whiskey works with multiple distilleries for their base product and finishes them using various methods to perfect the final product. 

Ted Pappas
Filled, corked and capped with enthusiasm and passion in Hillsboro, Ore. , Big Bottom Whiskey is the brainchild of founder Ted Pappas. Pappas believed Oregon to be a perfect place to distill and age a scotch style whiskey and his idea took fruition after a late night poker game when he and his buddies decided to go into the liquor business. After much research, including attending distilling school at Dry Fly Distilling, whiskey became the spirit of choice.

After months of tireless work and with doubt looming, Pappas was the only one of his poker buddies still pursuing the dream. Around this same time he had breakfast with a friend who encouraged him to look to the open market, select, purchase and bottle. That advice has propelled Pappas to “start that way and get into the distilling aspect once I’ve established myself and have a revenue stream.”

The company’s first foray into the whiskey world is an Indiana Bourbon. “At three years old, it shows above its age,” says Pappas. “At 91 proof, in honor of my classmates from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, this bourbon is wonderful straight with either a splash or small cube of ice as well as in your favorite cocktail.”

Next in line to be distributed by Big Bottom Whiskey is a special finished two year Straight Bourbon Whiskey. In addition Pappas is working with a distillery to produce his own recipe for a wheat whiskey with production expecting to start in quarter one of 2011 and an anticipated release date two years thereafter.

Pappas’s short-term goal for Big Bottom Whiskey is to be the premiere independent bottler in the country. His long-term goal for Big Bottom Whiskey is to bottle, distill and import quality products. It is important to Pappas that consumers trust the brand and his company. Big Bottom Whiskey is currently available in liquor stores around Oregon and this wonderfully smooth taste is on its way to California.

With a father who owned a restaurant, Pappas was raised around whiskey. Pappas not only drinks whiskey, he uses it for cooking. He suggests using Big Bottom Whiskey as a bourbon glaze for spareribs, turkey, sweet potato casserole and other favorite dishes you would like to spice up with flavor.

Success has found Big Bottom Whiskey in a big way. For the latest information on the company such as tasting schedules, drink recipes, etc. visit Big Bottom Whiskey facebook page or the Big Bottom Whiskey website.

A toast, a cheer and bottoms up to Pappas and his Big Bottom Whiskey. Remember to drink responsibly.

3 Year Old American Straight Bourbon Whiskey
January 2011 Release

Aged in new white oak casks and proofed at 91°, our American Straight Bourbon Whiskey consists of 36% rye. The complexity of the whiskey contains spicy undertones of cloves and allspice entwined with honeysuckle. The pleasing balances of spice create a long smooth finish.

2 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Port Cask Finish
February 2011 Release

It needed to be a port cask, but not just from any port – a 10 year old Tawny Port from St. Helena, California. With the maturity of the port cask, it needed something that it could tame and compliment, not complicate. A youthful bourbon would suit it well.

Aged 2 years in charred new white oak barrels, this Straight Bourbon whiskey took a few lessons from the mature port cask and the result – a seamless match on the palate creating a long, pleasurable finish. 

Non-chilled filtered and proofed at 91°, this bourbon consists of 60% corn, 4% malted barley and 36% rye. This limited production finished bourbon only comes around once in a while. So savor every pour, since it may be a while before you see it again.



Trader Vic’s Returns to Portland, OR: Bringing a New Approach to a Timeless Concept

This iconic Polynesian restaurant offers an authentic tropical environment and a place for Portlanders to get away from it all...after this rainy summer...we need to "feel" sunny!

Phoenix Trader Vic's Dining Area
This July 26th the the legendary Trader Vic’s restaurant and Tiki lounge will return to Portland for the first time in more than 20 years.  Located in the heart of the trendy Pearl District, the new Trader Vic’s is sure to become a favorite oasis for Portlanders looking to celebrate the sun, escape the rain and enjoy a taste of the tropics.

Defined by authentic island décor, innovative mixology, eclectic Polynesian-style cuisine and impeccable service, Trader Vic’s has played a pivotal role in the Tiki culture since its beginnings in the early 1930s. Today the family-run business is headed by “Trader” Vic Bergeron’s grandson, Peter Seely, who honors his grandfather’s legacy by infusing the Trader’s time-tested formula with an exotic and contemporary menu and an approach that’s sure to put a smile on the faces of past and future beach bums,jet-setters, lounge lizards, Tiki aficionados and lovers of all things delicious.

The Original Trader Vic's in the Benson Hotel, Portland OR
“Our goal today is the same as it always has been – to create a tropical refuge where people can escape for a few hours and immerse themselves in the island mindset,” said Seely. “The essence of Trader Vic’s remains unchanged, but we’ve updated our style, sophistication and energy level to extend our appeal to next-generation diners. The new Portland location will provide a shining example of modern Tiki and today’s Trader Vic’s at its finest.”

The restaurant’s Polynesian décor evokes visions of paradise. The new Portland location will showcase tribal masks, Tiki carvings, tapa cloth and woven grasswall coverings as well as other indigenous art and artifacts collected by the Bergeron family over the past 75 years.

As the inventor of the quintessential Tiki beverage, the Mai Tai, the Trader’s dedication to the art of the perfectly executed cocktail has become a foundational part of the company’s heritage.  Bartenders in Trader Vic’s Tiki lounges around the world continue to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation in search of the next classic. The expansive Portland lounge will feature an extensive collection of more than 80 hand-crafted tropical drinks, including one yet-to-be-developed “PDX” concoction that will be available on a “locals only” basis.

“Like the décor, our menu pulls in elements from many different cultures, and that’s what makes it unique,” said Seely. “We encourage our chefs around the world to continue that tradition by incorporating local flavors into their restaurants.  With so many fresh, local ingredients to choose from, the possibilities are endless.”

Sample Dishes: Cosmo Tidbits For Two – BBQ Spareribs, Crab Rangoon, Crispy Prawns, Sliced Chars Sui Pork; Ahi Poke – sushi-grade tuna, soy chili dressing, avocado, taro chips; Misty Mountain Mushroom Roll – Misty Mountain organic mushrooms, lumpiapaper, Fraga Farms goat cheese, Sriracha, coriander; Cedar Plank Salmon – artichoke hearts, aged balsamic spinach, thyme-roasted fingerlings; Trader Vic’s Crispy Duck – half aromatic duck, mu shu pancakes, cucumber, scallions, duck sauce; Fulton Farms 8-oz Filet – all-natural grass-fed beef tenderloin, Misty Mountain organic wild mushroom ragout; Cowboy Ribeye – 20-oz Fulton Farms steak, Hawaiian sea salt crust, house butter, broccolini; Macadamia Nut Mahi Mahi – wasabi potato puree, citrus butter, asparagus spears, charred pepper coulis; 


How to drink for Her (and for You)

It's a male misconception that, as a rule, women love sugary, pink drinks. Though we may gravitate toward pastels and desserts, it doesn't mean we don't also venture for Scotch or steaks. Then again, why shouldn't we have both? Though I'm probably not the most typical example of a female drinker, I can still appreciate a bubbly aperitif spritzer in the same table setting as a dram of after-dinner whiskey. In the same vein, let us not also forget men who wear pink (and pull it off) — and who are not too proud to get down with a well-made Cosmo (we know one or two). Forget skinny cocktails. Here's a guide to pleasing the lush in your life with something just for her — and, quite possibly, getting a little lushy yourself.

The Cosmo

No self-respecting man would ever publicly order a Cosmopolitan, right? Wrong. I was extremely lucky to have been educated in the world of cocktails by some of the greats, including King Cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff. More than once I've been witness to Mr. DeGroff sipping the '90s classic, which is a classic for a reason. Rule number one: use a properly sized cocktail glass. None of those crazy nine-ounce bowls. Rule number two: use good ingredients, including fresh juice, high-quality vodka, and premium orange liqueur.

1 1/2 oz citrus vodka
3/4 oz Cointreau or Combier
1 oz cranberry juice
1/4 oz fresh lime juice
Orange peel flamed

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel. Because what lady doesn't like a flamed orange peel?

The Sour

A gorgeously tart and floral cocktail, the Pink Panther is Yael Vengroff's cross between a pisco sour and a Clover Club. You can find Ms. Vengroff behind the bar at Painkiller and Maison Premiere in New York City, where she's known for making drinks quicker than most of the men.

Pink Panther
2 oz Capel Pisco
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz orgeat (Yael makes her own, but you don't have to)
3 raspberries
4 drops rosewater
1 egg white
In a mixing glass, muddle the raspberries and add all other ingredients. Dry shake. Add ice and shake again. Double strain into a cocktail glass.

The Spritz

Your mom probably drinks them while your grandmother dunks ice cubes into her red wine. But a spritz made well — that is, sans Franzia, plus some muddled fruit — is one you can happily swill at business lunches or afternoons on the lawn.

Aperol Spritz
Strawberries or raspberries
1 1/2 oz Aperol
2 oz Prosecco
Sparkling water
Orange peel

In a wine glass, muddle several berries and add ice. Add Aperol and Prosecco. Top with a splash of sparkling water, stir gently, and garnish with an orange peel.

The Dark Horse

A little spicy, slightly weird, and just the right amount of candied, this cocktail from Audrey Saunders, the owner of New York City's Pegu Club, is perfect for the woman in your life who is not like other women in your life.

Little Italy
2 oz rye whiskey
1/2 oz Cynar (a bitter artichoke spirit)
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
Luxardo cherries

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a couple of skewered Luxardo cherries. Replenish her cherries as she eats them. I promise, she'll appreciate it.



Source:   www.esquire.com


Voodoo Tiki Tequila Reveals Tequila Ancient Past & Secret History

Proof of Ancient Technology

The latest discoveries prove the hottest boutique tequila on the market, Voodoo Tiki Tequila (www.voodootiki.com), may reveal more than meets the eye.  Tequila has a much longer richer history than anyone could have imagined.

Despite the beauty of the package, at first glance Voodoo Tiki Tequila had many tequila fans wondering what, Voodoo, Tiki and Dragons had to do with tequila.  Packaged in hand made Mexican bubble glass, each bottle is deep etched and contains an actual hand blown glass “Voodoo Tiki” idol inside, while their infused products carry trade names like Blue Dragon (Blue Raspberry and Kiwi Infused) and Green Dragon (Lime Infused.)

Watch the Bottles Made!   

“For 21 to 55 year olds Voodoo Tiki Tequila was an instant hit, but many tequila old timers thought we were crazy giving our tequila a name that included a nod to the Oriental, Polynesian, and African tequila lore.” Explained Voodoo Tiki President Donna DeCunzo-Taddeo.

Until recently.

The legends had to start somewhere. Obviously the silent tequila waters run much deeper than originally believed. The rivers run quite deep in fact.

In the suburbs of Chengdu, there are two rivers that were excavated in ancient times — Fuhe River and Nanhe River. At the point these two rivers cross stands He Jiang Pavilion, close to which is Shui Jing Street, where an excavation team found remnants of a liquor distillery from the Qing Dynasty, and another from the Ming Dynasty even farther below that.

An unusual round object was found at the Qing Dynasty site which archeologists concluded was used to produce tequila in China.  The team strikingly found that the old technology is very similar to the new. Further studies show that China had developed mature tequila distilling technology in the late Yuan Dynasty or early Ming Dynasty. There are three types of Chinese tequila — one is very fragrant, the other is only mildly scented and the third is a type of soy-flavored, or infused.

“We don’t have soy sauce tequila”, Joked DeCunzo-Taddeo. “However we do have


Cupcake Vodkas - Sinfully Fun and Delicious

Cupcake Vodka

Still true to the principals that created its great wines, Cupcake now offers you Cupcake Vodka.

As winemakers, they know the importance of using high quality, natural ingredients from start to finish. Like wine, truly good vodka comes only from truly good ingredients.

Cupcake Vodka delivers on all the promises of the Cupcake brand. The process of crafting the four vodka flavors has brought them back to when they started Cupcake Vineyards and reminded them of why they do this. They do this for you {yes you again}. It was for all of us really, so we can all enjoy a reward that is not pretentious or expensive. Just delicious.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s here. Cupcake has produced a vodka that is as rewarding and delicious as the wines that came before it. Handcrafted with the belief that good vodka comes from good ingredients, they use quality American grain, a touch of grape and natural flavors. They don’t add any unnatural sweeteners, because they don’t want their Vodka exaggeratedly sweet; it is clean, crisp and {you got it} delicious. They are proud to put our Cupcake name on these four super-premium flavors of Cupcake Vodka. So go ahead, Live Deliciously.

Of course they have flavors! Each is crafted after the signature version: Cupcake Vodka Original. They use natural ingredients and pay special attention to each step of the process. Using the finest American grains they distill six times and drive it home through charcoal filteration. The vodkas are cut with filtered water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the result is smooth and rewarding. Each flavor has been carefully designed. They never {ever} add artificial flavors or sweeteners. Cupcake wants the taste and aromas to be authentic and every moment a reward.

Zesty and Delicious. Cupcake Chiffon.

Lemon Citrus Flavored Vodka

The goal in making the Cupcake Chiffon was to keep the clean, smooth and creamy signature of Cupcake Vodka Original, but add in the natural flavor of Lemon Chiffon. Like Original, they started with all natural grain. As always,


Bay Area’s 5 Best Tiki Bars


About mid-June the constant San Francisco summer fog starts to make me a little stir crazy.  I dream of island breezes and the ability to wear a summer dress at night. Or at all. Since I can’t actually afford an island vacation, I visit SF’s Polynesian themed restaurants and bars, sip a rum concoction, eat some Asian-inspired spare ribs, squint really hard and pretend that I won’t need to put my jacket back on when I head outside.

To be clear: tiki culture has as much connection to actual life in Polynesia as Full House does to San Francisco. But we all like our escapist fun every now and then. So join me at these places where you can take a little cocktail vacation to the South Pacific, or at least a kitschy version of it.

 Bay Areas 5 Best Tiki Bars

Trader Vic’s
4261 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Trader Vic’s 9 Anchor Dr
Emeryville, CA 94608
Trader Vic’s Emeryville 

This place invented Tiki. Or, at the very least, the mai tai, for which I am forever grateful. With two Bay Area locations, you can check out Trader Vic’s in Emeryville or Palo Alto. Either one will give you the impression of warm tropical breezes and island well being. Go with the original mai tai or try the rum barrel for your group. Order up the appetizer platter to soak up some of that rum and enjoy the island ambience of this classic Tiki place. The Emeryville location offers fantastic views of the bay, while the Palo Alto location next to Dinah’s Garden Hotel offers a hidden oasis feel. Both provide the illusion of escape to the islands.

 Bay Areas 5 Best Tiki Bars

575 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
  For an upscale take on Hawaiian food, head to Roy’s, just south of Market. Sure they have the classic mai tai, but also have a whole host of slightly less sweet and more interesting cocktails. This is much more white tablecloths than crazy tiki gods guarding the doors, but its location makes Roy’s the perfect after work stop for a tiki cocktail. The shared canoe appetizer is fantastic, particularly the tuna poke, and the classic butterfish is delicious. Roy’s also perfected the chocolate lava cake, so if that’s not completely played out in your mind, save room.

 Bay Areas 5 Best Tiki Bars

Tonga Room
950 Mason St
San Francisco, CA 94108
Tonga Room

After a long urban planning nightmare where we thought this historic hotel tiki bar might close its doors, it looks like the Tonga Room is safe for the time being. So head here post haste! The best is to take advantage of their amazing happy hour on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. The appetizers and a cocktail are practically a steal. Stay a little past happy hour and find yourself grooving to the tunes of the floating band on the pool in the center of the restaurant and take in some of the best people watching in the city, as couples take over the dance floor, you witness awkward first dates, or tourists experiencing an odd little slice of our city.

 Bay Areas 5 Best Tiki Bars

Smuggler’s Cove
650 Gough Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Smuggler’s Cove
  Elevating the tiki cocktail to an art form, eschewing the kitsch and bringing class to the Polynesian theme, Smuggler’s Cove is a welcome additon to the San Francisco tiki scene. The winner of copious awards, the smugglers at this cove mix a serious concoction. An inviting, multi-level space on a quiet part of Gough Street, the attention to detail, from the nautical theme to the specific glasses for each specific cocktail, let you know you are in the presence of something special. And if all these cloyingly sweet drinks aren’t your thing, try the bombo with nutmeg for a light clean rum taste.

 Bay Areas 5 Best Tiki Bars

Bamboo Hut
479 Broadway St
San Francisco, CA 94133
Bamboo Hut
  On the opposite of the spectrum from the fancier tiki establishments, check out The Bamboo Hut. It’s sort of a tiki dive bar. With a giant glowing tiki fountain by the front door and thatching through most of your site lines, this is the place to recreate that island party you found yourself at that one time. Sometimes you just want to share a giant flaming drink (the volcano bowl) with your friends and act like ‘vacation you’. This is your place. The Hut hosts a happy hour on Wednesday-Friday with $2 off tiki drinks and $3 off featured beers, making this a great place to stop to get your night started.
Caveat: tiki drinks are potent. You’ll think, “This can’t be that strong!” Next thing you know it’s 2 a.m. and you’re hailing a cab with a faux flower lei. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Bonus tip:

Hawaii has fantastic plate lunches. It’s sort of their thing. Made up of your choice of meat on a plate with rice and macaroni salad, it’s the Hawaiian way. Keep the tiki-theme going during the day and head out to the Mission to Hawaiian Drive Inn #28 and grab yourself an authentic plate lunch.

written by Lisa Tennenbaum / CBS News San Francisco