Ice, Ice Baby: Frozen Boozy Sips for Summer

by Amy Pennington

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a cocktail kind of gal. Sure, I love hard cider and I’ve…

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Portland’s Rolling River Spirits hones in on one thing: distillation as a pure art form. Founded in 2011, Rolling River (part of the Rose City’s spirit-saturated Distillery Row) is owned and operated by the Rickard family, each member an artisan in his or her own right and all with “a keen interest in craft and dimensional arts.

There are three things you should know about aquavit before anything else.
1) It’s a category of caraway-flavored Scandinavian liquors, four times older than Ballard and veritably limitless in its scope.
2) Out of hundreds, only one foreign aquavit survives as an import to the United States, meaning Americans’ understanding of a drink once culturally integral to many of our ancestors has virtually disappeared.

Sangria seems to be everywhere this summer. It’s popping up on restaurant menus, and making regular appearances at cook-outs and summer parties. Like punch, it’s an easy choice for a party on summer evenings. Combine wine (or cider), some seasonal fruit, spices, ice, and maybe some soda water.
“Sangria is kind of the perfect party drink,” says Skye Gauzza, general manager at Golden Beetle in Seattle. Gauzza is a big fan of Sangria. “They don’t take a ton of planning.

Potato-based vodka is a massive labor of love—where grain- or fruit-based vodkas begin with plenty of sugar to distill directly into alcohol, potatoes contain far less initial sugar by comparison, meaning it can take hundreds of pounds of potatoes to make just a gallon or two of quality vodka.

Did you grow up eating pineapple upside-down cake? Maybe your grandma baked it special for holidays and family functions. A dessert made popular in the 1920s and ‘30s, pineapple upside-down cake is traditionally made in a cast iron skillet to create the sweet, sticky and slightly crispy caramelized pineapple topping this classic American dessert is known for.

The world of cocktail mixers—seasonal juices, house-made tonics and unique flavor enhancements—is diversifying at a rate consistent with the market of specialty infused liquors. Although this wide array of flavors readily available for bartenders to grab, throw into their shakers and create glorious, unique elixirs is perfecting happy hours across the country, it is also making the process of committing to a boozy delight to share your dinner with a bit more inspiring.

The McMenamins chain is known throughout Oregon and Washington for offering a wildly eclectic mix of spas, breweries, hotels, movie theaters and concert venues in their quirky gathering spaces. Now their distilling program, which started at their Troutdale location in 1998, has started to gain traction—and their latest summer offering, Aval Pota, should help cement their place in the pantheon of Northwest craft distillers.

The dry, sunny weather in Eastern Washington this spring and summer has resulted in a near record-breaking cherry crop for the state. Unlike the sodden crop of 2013, this year has redeemed itself with a harvest of just under 20 million boxes. Why am I talking about fruit harvests, you ask? Because what’s good in the field, is good in the glass. And in the case of cocktails, consider cherries an excellent addition to your bar.
One new kid in the cherry playing field is the Orondo Ruby.

Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s Mashbill No. 9 Bourbon Whiskey is designed to taste like a piece of Kentucky snapped off and landed in the heart of western Washington. And it worked. This bourbon is true to the traditional flavors of America’s native spirit: in it, pleasurably subtle spice nuances (cinnamon, allspice, cloves) and oaky undertones are cloaked in an enmeshment of warm vanilla and caramel. As with many of the best bourbons, this a spirit to enjoy straight.

 
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