Local Proof: Agave’s Gentler Side

by Sonja Groset

In the spirits world, the blue agave plant has always been synonymous with tequila. But now, thanks to a relentless…


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.

In 2012, Jackie Moffett, co-founder of the Northwest Tequila Fest, went to Vegas; but not until after she returned to the Pacific Northwest did she roll the dice.
After visiting a tequila festival during her stay in Sin City, Moffett decided she wanted to celebrate the agave-distilled spirit in the Pacific Northwest. Moffett said there is a great tequila culture in Seattle and it needed to have a festival of its own.

John Jacob, a Dutch distiller who immigrated to Oregon in the late 1920s, created the recipe that is still used in this rye whiskey today. Made by Jacob’s granddaughter, Patti Bishop, and her husband, Mike Sherlock, at Seattle’s Mischief Distillery, this sippable and smooth whiskey is crafted with 90 percent northern dark rye berries.
Try stirring up this cocktail with the Antica Honey Syrup or just go classic with traditional honey syrup, made with equal parts honey and water.

On March 12, the doors opened into the Terrace Club at Safeco Field but no baseball was played in the SoDo neighborhood that day. Instead, the first annual Whiskey Rocks Northwest took over the stadium with a familiar playful spirit, where drinks were imbibed and appetizers ran aplenty. As exhibited through this inaugural Whiskey Rocks NW presented by CBS Radio, the world of whiskey indeed brings folks together – cowboy boots and all.

Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, Oregon was founded by Steve McCarthy in 1985, and long ago made a name for itself with its distinctive pear brandy. McCarthy was a pioneer in the craft distilling movement in the Pacific Northwest, and was able to capitalize on the fruit produced by family orchards near Mount Hood. This year, he’s nominated for a James Beard award for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional.

You can trace the origins of distilling brandy all the way back to the 15th century. Originally created as an after-dinner beverage, the drink has since made its way to more than just the dinner table; it’s perfect for a relaxing afternoon sip out on the porch or a late-night drink at your local neighborhood drinking establishment. Although not known for producing brandy the Northwest has several distilleries that craft notable versions of the fruit-mashed liqueur.

Many years ago, at a casual book launch event for Seattle chef Jerry Traunfeld (then of The Herbfarm Restaurant), I had an amazing bite of food. In a small bowl, Traunfeld soaked a mix of dried stone fruits in an intoxicating bath of vanilla beans, fresh rosemary and apple brandy. A subtle touch, the brandy gave the fruit an earthy, pleasing balance against the sweet cloy of natural sugar and made an impact that has lasted.

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