We’ve Got Spirits

by Christian Conahan

Shock and awe: Washington State is home to more than 100 distilleries, more than any other state in the nation….


The summer solstice means three things to me: Juneuary is almost over in the Pacific Northwest, Wimbledon is about to begin and it is (finally!) Pimm’s Cup season. For the uninitiated, a Pimm’s Cup is a low-octane, long drink made with Pimm’s—the gin-based liqueur from England—some fizzy soda and garnished with everything from lemon peels and cucumber wedges to strawberries and apple slices. It is perfect on a hot summer day and low-proof enough to be enjoyed all day.

The classic combination of Campari, gin and sweet vermouth gets turned on its head at bars and restaurants around the country during Negroni Week: the seven-day celebration of the venerable Italian cocktail. Co-sponsored by Campari and Imbibe Magazine, Negroni Week allows bartenders to offer their own twist on the original recipe, all while raising money and awareness for a local charity of their choice. Last year’s event raised more than $300,000.

When friends and longtime colleagues Tom Kelley and Matt McMullen began talking about going into business together, the two engineers wanted a project that struck the right balance of creativity and exacting process. The two already had other friends in the distilling business, and loved the camaraderie they found in the world of cocktails and spirits. Combined with a passion for rum, Puget Sound Rum Co. was born.

A go-to base for classic cocktails – martini, anyone? – the story of gin extends as far back as the 17th century. Today, tradition remains but innovation seeps through, with botanical choices becoming increasingly more unique, and the resulting gins becoming associated with their distinct regions. Whether you prefer classic juniper or locally foraged fruits, the following nine gins have you covered.

We are now accepting submissions for our fifth annual Best of the Northwest issue! Out in October, this issue will feature the top picks for wine, beer, spirits and cider the region has to offer and will announce the winners in print to more than 120,000 readers. The top three winning submissions of each category will be awarded medals and the issue will also cover industry leaders, trends, travel and products.

In the spirits world, the blue agave plant has always been synonymous with tequila. But now, thanks to a relentless entrepreneur with some notable connections in Mexico, agave is being distilled into vodka in Portland.
Jackie Proteau has worked in the real estate business for nearly 30 years, and her love of spirits and wine (she and husband Dwight have an importing business – Two Worlds – importing and distributing Italian wine) spans just as long.

Nick Feris started The Rum Collective six years ago to form a community to educate the public about the molasses or sugarcane juice-distilled spirit. Rum, commonly associated with fantastical tales about pirates and treasure, has an even darker side to it than its swashbuckling ancestry.

Located off of Elliot Avenue in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood between Lower West Queen Anne and Downtown, Citizen Six has something for everyone. Bonding cider with spirits and bar grub with an uncommon fusion of Mexican and Korean influence, the railroad-side spot has surely snagged a niche like no other.
Walking in you’ll feel as though you’ve found the medium between forest and dining car.

Vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar, has long been hailed for its healing properties, with benefits ranging from reducing congestion, soothing a sore throat, and remedying indigestion, to balancing insulin levels and lowering cholesterol. All this and it’s thought to reduce the effect of a hangover to boot.

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