Stone Barn Apricot Liqueur

apricot liquorQuite possibly one of the furthest flung points on the Portland Distillery Row, Stone Barn Brandyworks has a lot to offer.  Many of their products are seasonal, using fruit and grains from around the NW when they are at their freshest.  This can lead to a bit of a scarcity problem with some of their more popular bottles.

While looking for a good flavored brandy for use in some tiki cocktails I remembered their selection and made the trip over.  After an hour of samples in everything from Ouzo to quince liqueur I wrapped and bought my favorites.

Among them was this gem.  Using an Oat Whiskey base this liqueur pulls all the tart, sweet and tangy notes of fresh apricots into that earthy, bright base.  Far better choice than an artificially flavored apricot brandy.  This carries all of the color, weight and scent you could need for anything between spring and fall.  At $25 for a 375ml and $35 for a 750ml this is a bargain for anyone who needs apricot flavor in a cocktail.

The only downside is that Stone Barn doesn’t distribute very widely and production is often a limitation.  I checked listings and found bottles at only around 10 stores in Oregon, and only 1 outside of the Portland Metro area.  Some online sales are possible but appear complicated by state limitations.

What is the difference between Whiskey, Rye, Scotch and Bourbon?

6156035_origI had an opportunity to work in a distillery retail store, which is much like a standard liquor store only with a limited selection.  People of all types came along with questions like “do you sell scotch?”  At first I was befuddled, that people could be so ignorant of what they were drinking.  After a couple of weeks I stopped wondering and started pulling out the details so I could really answer people’s questions.  One of the most prominent was “What is Bourbon?”

This is actually a much deeper question than it first appears because it comes right on the heels of the more important question, “What is whisk(e)y?”

The term whiskey simply means any grain spirit distilled to less than 160 proof, barreled at no more than 125 proof and aged in an oak barrel.

Bourbon, Rye and Single Malt whiskeys are all sub-types of whiskey that specify a specific grain type that predominates.  So you could make whiskey with 20% each of corn, rye, barley, quinoa and wheat but you could never call the resulting franken-whiskey anything other than just whiskey.  If you have at least 51% of rye you can call it a rye whiskey but anything less and you’re stuck with the general label.  Please keep in mind that much of what I’m going to discuss here is based on American regulations or American trade deals with other countries.  Some things could be different outside the US and I’m also not a lawyer or an expert on TTB regulations.

Aging and the White Dog

The aging stipulation is actually a funny bit.  The rules say you have to age it, but not how long.  Another loophole is that predominantly corn whiskey can be sold unaged.  This is where moonshine comes from.  Moonshine or White Dog is a kind of unaged whiskey where the product spends as little time as possible in a barrel.  In some cases this is simply the time it takes to pump the liquor into and out of the barrel.  Some distilleries like House Spirits let their White Dog rest for as long as 3 days.  Because there is no regulation on the term white dog anyone can use it to mean any number of things.  So if a label says white dog but not whiskey then chances are it doesn’t contain the right amount of corn or that they age it in something other than oak, if at all.  Moonshine is also an unregulated term so it could just as easily refer to a sugar based spirit as shown in Pink Panty Dropper Watermelon Moonshine.

If the whiskey has been aged for at least 2 years and contains no other flavoring or coloring additives it may also be labeled as Straight Whiskey.  This can be applied to any type from Straight Rye to Straight Bourbon.  If a whiskey is over two years it gets the option to be called straight, it’s not a requirement but if you see straight on the label you can infer something about the age.

Beyond that the rules regarding age are rather complicated.  That is a link to the TTB regulations on Age, whiskey occupies a full 6 pages of this 16 page document.  The big take away is that if the spirit is less than 4 years old then an age statement is required.

Bourbon

Bourbon is actually a sub-type of corn whiskey, where corn whiskey requires at least 80% corn in the initial mash bourbon is less stringent and requires only 51% or greater.

All bourbons are aged in new charred american oak barrels, this statement requires some parsing.  New means unused previously, only fresh barrels are used for each batch.  This means that some of the flavors and mellowing involved in the contact between alcohol and wood never gets to carry over from batch to batch.  Additionally it means that there are quite a few used bourbon barrels on the market as the distillery can’t reuse old barrels for bourbon.  These get snapped up by beer brewers, rum makers and scotch distillers for use in their own less stringent aging processes.

The next part of the statement is charred, this means that the barrel will be imparting both color and flavor to the spirit as the charcoal filters the spirit over time.  Uncharred barrels will generally do this to some degree but never to the same extent that even a lightly charred barrel will.  Charring is not an on or off process.  Barrels can be charred or toasted to any number of degrees which allows the distiller to control how quickly and to what extent flavors will be imparted over the aging process.

Lastly we come to American Oak, this is important because there are actually many species of white oak from American to French and even an Oregon specific variety.  Each has a slightly different character due to climate, soil and species that can impart drastically different flavors to the finished product.  For a prime example I suggest tasting the Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon alongside its 4 year counterpart and compare the differences.  Requiring a specific species limits the range of flavors that the wood can vary from and also gives a healthy kick to the American Cooperage industry.

Bourbon has some other finicky bits about barrel strength, bottle strength and such but most of these don’t impact the differences between other whiskey.

Tennessee Whiskey

As bourbon is a sub-type of corn whiskey, so too is Tennessee Whiskey a sub-type of bourbon.  Only recently defined by Tennessee state law they have defined Tennessee Whiskey as a bourbon that undergoes the Lincoln County Process.

This means that first off the producers in Tennessee have to adhere to all of the normal restrictions for bourbon with regard to content, age, and process.  The Lincoln County Process refers to a process where the raw unaged bourbon is filtered through sugar maple charcoal prior to being cut and barreled.  This is not an exact process as different distilleries will either soak or trickle the whiskey through the charcoal and will do so at differing proofs and temperatures.

Funny Story, none of the distilleries that use the Lincoln county process are actually IN Lincoln county.  Jack Daniels, George Dickel and several others are located in next door Moore County and have been for most of their existence.  A little digging shows that Moore county was created out of parts of Lincoln county sometime in the 1850’s which means it’s not a new change.

Additionally, the only distillery actually in Lincoln county is Prichard’s.  Through an amazing example of targeted lobbying Prichard’s managed to get an exception to the Tennessee law added which exempts them from the requirement to use charcoal filtering on the basis that they have never used it before.  The law was originally sponsored by Jack Daniels and so I don’t really see much wrong with other distillers getting their digs in against a law which promotes exactly the process JD has been using for over a hundred years.  What makes it funny is that Prichard’s has only been around since 1997 and was able to have enough sway to get something like this done.

Rye Whiskey

Legally a Rye Whiskey is one in which the grain content has at least 51% rye.  As explained above bourbon is primarily corn with the remainder being composed of things like rye and wheat.  It is therefore possible to have a rye and a bourbon in which the difference in the content is a 2% change from rye to corn.

I can’t actually name any whiskey that meets this definition as most companies do not publish their grain bill but under the rules it is possible.

Rye tends to have a spicier flavor as compared to the mellow notes of wheat.  Rye also has a fairly distinctive aroma.  Rye is aged in oak like most other whiskey but unlike bourbon does not have the same level of restrictions on how it is produced and under what circumstances.

This leads to a lot more variance in how rye is composed and a lot less consistency across various brands.  Many major brands offer a Rye from Bulleit‘s rather traditional offering to the Ri-One craziness from beam-suntory.

Scotchy Scotch Scotch

First off all scotch is made in Scotland.  If it’s made outside of Scotland the definition gets a bit more murky but some alternative names include American Single Malt, Single Malt, Malt Whisky, and of course he catch all Whisky (no e).  The second big requirement for all of the types in this category is that they use predominantly barley or malted barley in their grain bill.  Third Scotch is aged for three years in oak casks.

When they say made in Scotland they get really picky, it must be processed, converted, fermented, distilled, aged, bottled and labeled IN Scotland.

Their naming guidelines are equally odd.  You cannot use the name of a distillery on the bottle unless the product actually came from there.  This is in contrast to the US where we are presently having our own growing pains with non-distilling producers.

Single Malt Whisky is actually three terms and not one.  The Single portion means how many distilleries were involved in the process.  Single means it all happens in one shop, Blended means more than one distillery’s product was combined into the results.  Malt means that the contents are 100% malted barley, if instead it said grain it would mean that other cereal grains were used in the grain bill.

More interesting still is that the laws in Scotland actually prohibit the production of non-scotch whisky.  So you will likely never see a Scottish bourbon, or a good Scottish rye.  It would take forever to list out the more salient details of the various kinds of scotch and I’m nothing like an expert on any of them but suffice to say they are many, manifold and delicious.

As to American Single Malts there have been a number of them arising over the years and several of them have outperformed ancient named Scottish brands in tasting competitions.

Irish Whiskey

Previously one of the most popular types of whiskey, Irish Whiskey has taken a pretty hard fall over the years.  Generally similar to scotch, there are considerably fewer restrictions on how it is produced.  For one thing most Irish whiskey is distilled three times compared to two for scotch.  It is also aged for three years.  Beyond that, it simply has to have the character of the component grains to qualify.

For such a famous spirit it is very strange that there are only a bare dozen distilling operations in the entire country.  The most famous of which are the distilleries producing Jameson and Bushmills.

What is Malting?

You might only hear the term Malt when talking about scotch but the process itself is used in a number of areas.  Essentially what happens is that grains are exposed to water and then allowed to sprout, this begins the process of converting the stored starch in the grain into sugar.  The grains are then very rapidly dried and the process stopped creating a product with a lot of accessible sugar and a high content of the enzyme which breaks down starches already active and ready to go.  Any grain can be malted but it is not necessary to put this fact on the label, so if you see malted *grain* on your whiskey it was the distiller’s choice to put that there.

In general this provides for a more rapid fermentation than using unmalted product.  Additionally, barley contains a much higher concentration of the enzyme than other grains which makes malted barley an excellent product for kickstarting the fermentation process in other grains which might take much longer to begin fermenting on their own.

It is also how you begin the process of fermenting things like potatoes which do not normally contain enzymes of their own and would otherwise not ferment.

More recently synthetic enzymes have come on the market allowing distillers to produce similar results without the addition of barley to their products.

What is Sour Mash?

Sour Mash is another optional label component.  The process is a bit like keeping a bit of sourdough starter to begin your next batch.  Some of the fermented mash from a previous batch is added to new washes to allow some of the original yeast strains to carry over.  This has a big impact on flavor and most of the best whiskey is sour mashed whether they say so on the label or not.

A list of terms that don’t actually mean anything

Handcrafted
Small Batch
Barrel Aged
Cask Strength
Moonshine
Single Barrel

Aval Pota

aval pota 2Mcmenamin’s operates two distilleries in the Portland area, one at Edgefield and another at Imbrie Hall.  Their products aren’t generally sold outside of their own operations but with dozens of small strip mall bars all over town it isn’t exactly hard to find their stuff if you want it.

Recently I went shopping for presents and found a number of new products on their shelf.  Among them was this tasty little number.  Aval is middle welsh for apple, Pota is old Irish for a pot still.  From the name you would expect an apple brandy but Aval Pota is basically apple pie.  Unlike a number of the other ones on the market this one isn’t a moonshine base it uses a single malt whiskey.

Blended with apple juice and spices down to a reasonable proof this is a pretty sweet liqueur.  It runs well hot or cold, the apple flavor in most things is normally too mild to notice but this holds up well.  Apple smell on top is a nice aroma followed by the cinnamon.  The flavors carry over into the first and second notes where you get the sweet and crisp kind of apple flavor you might get from a dried apple ring.  The whiskey has a nice bite on the end, being from single malt it doesn’t have the more spicy or rounded notes of a bourbon or rye.

A little spendy for something this low a proof, most flavored whiskey products aim a little lower since they know the whiskey flavor will be covered over and thus any imperfections will be less noticeable. Pick up a bottle when things get colder and drop a little into your tea or cider.  This doesn’t disappoint.

33% ABV and $29.95 for a 750ml bottle.

Camp 1805 Distillery

220A customer recommended that I take a trip down the gorge to try out a new distillery in Hood River.  Camp 1805 is parked in a little industrial complex just a stone’s throw from the HRD plant right on the Columbia river.  Position wise you would not think that there would be much in the way of restaurant or retail in that part of the town.  Most of the commerce seems to go on in the south bank side as the town rises up the hill.

Given their location I suppose it was no surprise that they didn’t actually open until 3pm.  So the girlfriend and I made a day of it, driving down the gorge taking photos and exploring hidden gems until afternoon rolled around.  The site is actually a bar, which is different than many of the tasting rooms in Portland but encouraging as it means the bartender is going to be well versed in what kinds of cocktails go well with their products.

They were open promptly at 3, which is refreshing in this business where things can sometimes be lax.  Things were quiet since we were effectively waiting for them to open and it was the middle of the week.

The decor is very nice looking and new.  Their selection behind the bar was heavy on major labels with a good selection of mixers but lacking in the depth of a Kask or oven & shaker.

Their tasting flight included four offerings.  From what I gather their small batch nature means that the proof on some of these varies from batch to batch with 80 being the baseline and the end product going up to at least 93.

Endurance White Whiskey

Whiskey is a curious duck, the legal requirements say that it must be barreled but not that it must be charred or aged for any length of time.  For this reason white dogs always feel like a cheat to me.  This one spends all of a minute in an unchared barrel before heading to bottling.  The result is clean and has the flavors of the heavy wheat in the grain bill without the oak to temper or tame the alcohol flavors.  It wasn’t a biter for all that the version I was drinking was 93 proof.  I can see this getting much better with time and oak.  I’m not a big fan of white dogs so take my opinion with a lot of salt.  4/10

Mt Hood Vodka

A french wheat vodka purchased elsewhere and then cut with local water and bottled.  This was similar to a grey goose in both flavor and character.  At 80 proof I wasn’t surprised with the content but neither was I really blown away.  5/10 – nothing much new to see here.

Backbone Rum

When I first tasted this I thought I was drinking whiskey.  The flavor is quite potent, which again might come from the higher proof nature of some of the offerings.  The flavor was good for a silver but not quite as soft as say Cpt. Morgan White. 6/10

Aged Rum

This is the true standout of the ones that I tried.  There wasn’t any information about it on their website so I’m stuck with what I learned while I was there.  Their backbone is aged in Yellow Rose Bourbon barrels until it is ready.  Barrel aging is a tricky process when you’re not using new barrels, the flavors in the wood already can play as much of a role as the size of the barrel in how long it needs to age to get the right flavor.  The batch I tasted was not really a dark rum but has some very good flavors to it.  8/10

Update: Devils Bit Irish Whiskey

wpid-wp-1427222705400.jpegSt. Patrick’s day has come and gone and with it the green beer and drunken revelry of those who want to pretend they’re of Irish extraction for 24 hours.

As every year the distilleries of McMenamins release their small batch Devil’s Bit whiskey.

I wasn’t aware until I put the last three years side by side but each year the release is a little bit different.  The 2013 is a 12-year aged Irish, the 2014 is an 8 year four barrel and this year is a 5 year port barrel finish.

The bottles are all still 200ml and the price has stayed at $17.  I’ve run a side by side tasting on all three and I’m hard pressed to find the differences.  The aging process is pretty light and the finished product is still a little harsh even for the 12 year.

As an annual tradition I still enjoy heading out to Edgefield or CPR, taking the tour and getting my one or two bottles.

Ty Wolfe Whiskey

ty wolfe whiskeyThis bottle presented something of a conundrum to me when I first acquired it from a co-worker.  This bottling comes from the tasting room at Skiprock Distillery in Snohomish WA and is only sold there.  I inquired of the distiller about it because the label is a little odd and they were thankfully able to clear up some of my confusion.

I am told that Ty Wolfe was originally a label owned by Mac Donald Distillery which was bottled by Skiprock and that Skiprock has since bought the brand.  As with any change in company there are bound to be changes in marketing and it can be costly to relabel products already on the shelf.

This should be the same product as the Ty Wolfe Aged Bourbon currently on offer from Skiprock.  This is a wheated bourbon, meaning their grain bill is at least 51% corn with the remainder being primarily wheat instead of rye.  As rye tends towards a more spicy character this is a much smoother more mellow whiskey than say the Bullit Rye.

After letting my sample breathe for a bit I was able to get some very nice caramel notes in the nose.  The flavor isn’t flashy and while it does have a little burn up front it isn’t a serious burner.

This is not a very soft selection, it is aged only about 18 months which means it’s not a straight whiskey.  A year and a half gives it some oak but means it lacks a lot of the stronger flavors that oak imparts such as vanilla, leather or coffee.

It blends sweetly, a little water can smooth out some of the rough spots.  It does like a little air to let some of the higher fumes burn off.  Mixed into a cocktail it works as well as any other bourbon and doesn’t mess about with odd flavors.  I wish I could speak to price comparison but I could not find a store that stocked it anywhere in range so I think this will likely remain a regional flavor for a while yet.

 

Sinfire Cinnamon Whiskey

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The fine folks that make Pendleton Whiskey have entered the flavored whiskey market with a competitor to Fireball.  There must be some serious competition here because Sazerac Inc. the parent company of Fireball sued Hood river distillers for trademark infringement in February of last year.

Priced reasonably, Sinfire whiskey has a good whiskey flavor in addition to the Cinnamon.  Most of these fireball type drinks are cloyingly sweet and taste more like red hots than actual cinnamon.

Sinfire seems to avoid a lot of those speed-bumps and creates a fine blend of cask flavor and sweetness.  Fireball is marketed in the same vein as aftershock  and other Dare Shots that aren’t really for enjoyment but rather for the Jackass style yuks of people who get to watch the expression on your face when you drink.

Sinfire on the other hand, seems to lean more towards things like Eastside’s Marion berry whiskey or Cherry bomb whiskey.  Flavorful offerings that use real ingredients to alter the naturally good taste of whiskey.

This isn’t a spicy drink like hot monkey or ABSOLUT PEPPAR.  You might think cinnamon and get hot, like atomic fireball or something in that vein.  This is actually much more an exercise in the true spirit of the spice as opposed to the flavoring additives that people think of as that spice.

The bottle you see here is a lovely little 50ml I picked up from their booth at the OMSI mixology night.  I plan to work out something that really plays with the cinnamon flavors as soon as I can think of a good fruit juice to pair it with.

 

Make Your Own: Whiskey

Sorry for the dodge on this one.  I’m not actually going to show you how to make whiskey.  Owning a still without the proper licenses is more than my simple blog is worth.

But that is not to say that you can’t do it anyway.  The Mississippi River Distilling company is offering up their equipment and expertise to allow you to make your own blend.  You get full control of the grains, barrels, age, proof and even the yeast.  They do all the work and deliver to you the finished product of approximately 160 bottles of whiskey + the barrel they used to age it.

Their My Whiskey program looks amazing and really brings home the idea of what craft distilling is all about.  It’s not about having a huge piece of copper bubbling away in your garage it’s about the finished product.

Now if only I had a spare 6k lying around so I could do this.

Another interesting thing they do there is you can adopt a barrel.  By law Bourbon has to be aged in NEW white oak barrels.  Which means that for each batch they have to buy new barrels and find something to do with the old ones.  This isn’t always a problem as there are always Rum makers, scotch makers, brandy makers, cognac makers, etc who need casks and enjoy the flavors that the used bourbon casks impart.

Mississippi River Distilling apparently will let you adopt a barrel for $400, which entitles you to help bottle the whiskey from that barrel, take home 6 bottles and the barrel itself.

Sadly I’m nowhere near Iowa and don’t know what I’d do with a 30 gallon barrel once I had it but it sounds like a neat idea.

Bulleit Rye Whiskey

bulleit I am not a huge whiskey drinker.  I’m carefully cultivating cocktail snobbery and I must say it is taking far longer than I might have imagined.  Some people think you can just stumble into being a drink snob.  I’m here to tell you brother that it takes both time and not an inconsiderable amount of effort.

Consider how easy it would be to simply buy a bottle of two buck chuck or some Jose Cuervo Especial and kill off a few hundred taste buds and brain cells.  It takes no effort at all to buy bad booze.  Hundreds of thousands of people do it every day.  Some well meaning people even buy things that I wouldn’t clean lawn mower parts with and try very very hard to mix it into something that they can get past the gag reflex and into a well warmed buzz.

Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye are a revolution and a half past the days of fuzzy “martini” drinks and overly sweet cocktails.  While Bulleit’s Bourbon is a small batch whiskey produced by Four Roses in Lawrenceburg Kentucky, Their rye is a mass produced product of MGPI in Lawrenceburg Indiana. Bulleit may have come to some people’s attention through a recent Sly Stallone movie Bullet to the Head where he brings his own bottle of the bourbon to the bar because they don’t carry it.

I have to say, I’ve tried their bourbon and now the rye and I’m very comfortable with both.  Smoky scents on first blush, and it keeps the head for a good while.  It sips well and blends nicely into a number of things I’ve tried with it.  Goes well with both lemon and lime.  I don’t get a lot of after burn, the alcohol catch is all in the front of the mouth and the charcoal and aromatics hit the sides and back in a nice progression that leaves your throat alone.

My rating system isn’t very advanced and I don’t like decimal points in ratings so i’m giving this a 4/5 shakers.  I like it in a few things but I don’t see myself polishing off a bottle on my own anytime in the near future.

Editors Note: Having learned considerably more I’ve adjusted several of the items in here to reflect reality.  I did eventually polish off the bottle, and it didn’t take as long as I thought.

Distillery Crawl Portland

Ed Note (This info is obviously a little out of date,

This is my own personal route that I travel on my birthday week every year with a select group of friends.

I usually buy the Distillery Row Passport which for $20 covers all the tastings I would normally have to buy as well as some nice around town coupons.

I go on a saturday starting at around 11am.  Depending on the crew and how well we’ve eaten we might start the tour with a stop at the Beaverton Farmers market which is almost right off of 217 and has a fantastic BBQ guy who does a wonderful burnt ends plate.

Stop 1 is Clear Creek Distillery , 2389 NW Wilson St., Portland, OR

A great place to begin any tour, it’s almost all alone on the west side so we hit it first and get it out of the way.  The tastings here are also free so it’s a nice place to stop just about any day they’re open.  Clear creek runs a wide variety of Fruit Liqueurs, grappa, eau de vie and brandy in both pear and apple.  They also release a small batch whiskey called McCarthy’s which usually sells out in about a month after they release it in march.  The part I like is that while you only get 5 samples if you bring friends you can pass them around a bit and get a little of everything.

Stop 2 New Deal Distillery 900 SE Salmon

We cross the river and head to the first of our east bank locations.  New deal makes some good stuff too.  I like their #1 gin, Hot Monkey pepper vodka and ginger Liqueur.  They’re also always doing something new so it’s worth a visit any time.  I pick up my passport here more often than not.  The last time I was there you got a free shot glass as part of your tasting which brought my count of them up to 3.  They’ve moved since the last time I was there, can’t wait to see their new location.

Stop 3 Vinn Distillery 833 SE Main St. Ste 125

Practically right across the street from New deal this tiny hole in the wall is a tasting room for a distillery in wilsonville.  They make a traditional rice Baijiu and rice vodkas.  They weren’t really to my taste, I may stop in again this year to see if they have anything new but I doubt i’ll linger.  Give them a shot, the rice vodka is a nice change for the gluten free crowd.

Stop 4: Bunk Bar 1028 SE Water Ave

A bit of a divergence from the straight line but this is the point in the tour where the drink starts to catch up with breakfast.  Bunk bar is a wonderful little spot where you can get a pork belly cubano, Roasted Poblano Torta or even a PB & J, side of debris fries and even order a decent cocktail.  Their shelves are pretty well stocked, lots of local stuff and even a few things like Maraschino liqueur that you don’t often see.  Their menu drinks are often Beer+ which doesn’t help me much but they all sound interesting at the least.  Grab a sandwich and go or sit and let the last 3 places settle before heading out again.

Stop 5: House Spirits 2025 SE 7th Ave

A bit further out than the next stop would suggest but I have a reason.  House carries a wide array of spirits, everything from gin to aquavit to a white dog whiskey.  Their tasting tends to be a little more varied than some of the other places which specialize a bit more in one kind of spirit or another.  Additionally this is the point where heat, botanicals and liquor start to cause burn out.  Go light here, taste what looks good but don’t get carried away there are still a couple more places ahead.

Stop 6: Eastside Distilling 1512 SE 7th Avenue (at Hawthorne)

Best for last (so to speak).  Eastside has continued to impress me every time I go.  Over the holidays they had egg nog, holiday spice liqueur, and peppermint bark, On top of their line of already very drinkable rums, bourbon and vodka.  Try everything, you won’t be disappointed.  I’m a big fan of their double barrel bourbon and their burnside bourbon as well as the rums.

Stop 7 Pacific Pie Company 1520 SE 7th Ave (Last Stop)

Literally next door to Eastside Distilling is a pie shop.  It’s probably 5-5:30 by now, you’re toasted lightly from the heat, sauced and full of lord knows how many herbs, botanicals and crazy concoctions.  The best thing for you is Pie.  Their menu changes regularly but they offer a majestic line of both sweet and savory pies and pasties.  If you can get it I recommend the strawberry margarita pie or the chocolate bourbon hazelnut.  In addition their bar offers a lovely line of cocktails featuring the best of everything i’ve listed so far.  For $8 you can get anything from a Tom Collins with Aviation Gin to a Bondi using Hot Monkey Vodka.

Alternates for this coming year:  I’ve still got a few months planning to do so i’ve been poking around to see how I might change things up.  The following are options that i’ve seen around town.

Breakfast: Leave much earlier and stop at the Oven and Shaker 1134 NW EVERETT.  They have a brunch menu which starts at 11:30.  Not ideal time wise but a ham plate, gravlax or pizza with duck eggs sounds delightful.  And they have some cocktails there like the French 75 that would make for a nice opener.

Westside additions: Bull Run Distilling 2259 NW Quimby Street

Only about 6 blocks from Clear creek I found out about these guys at a friend’s birthday when someone presented him with a bottle of their Temperance Trader Bourbon

Rogue Distillery 1339 NW Flanders St,

One of the bigger names in the local brewing scene they still make rum, whiskey and gin which might make them worth a try.