Food & Drink

10 Cocktails Made With Local Spirits You Need to Drink Right Now

Published On 01/11/2017 Published On 01/11/2017
Sagebrush Old Fashioned
Sagebrush Old Fashioned at Tasty n Sons | Courtesy of High-Proof PDX

Sagebrush Old Fashioned

Tasty n Sons

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Spirit: Ransom Wine & Spirits' Old Tom Gin
Tasty n Sons takes this revival spirit, developed after the popular fashion during the 1800s in tandem with David Wondrich, one of the cocktail world's foremost experts, and combines it with savory sage in the Sagebrush Old Fashioned. Old Tom Gin, which is made much sweeter than London Dry gin through its distillation process, is combined with maple, sage, and Boker's bitters. If our state were sippable, this piney, prohibition-era drink is what it would taste like.

The Fireside

Blood Moon

The Fireside NW

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Spirit: Dogwood Distilling's DL Franklin Vodka
Ask for the Blood Moon at The Fireside NW -- a cocktail that’s a slightly bitter and savory with balanced notes of citrus. DL Franklin Vodka, made with a corn base (instead of potato) and filtered through coconut-husk charcoal makes for an intriguing blend of activated carbon, limestone, and lava rock, which gives the spirit a smooth creaminess that's not found in most other vodkas. It’s mixed with Cocchi Americano, Dolin Blanc, Blood Orange & Lemon Thyme shrub, Slivovitz Plum eau de vie, and garnished with a blood orange moon.

Courtesy of Alan Weiner

Charred Orange Wood Alaska # 1

Trifecta Tavern

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Spirit: Dogwood Distilling's Union Gin
The flavor in Trifecta Tavern’s Charred Orange Wood Alaska # 1 comes primarily from the restaurant’s wood-fired oven. Bartender Colin Carroll and the team use to speed up the barrel-aging process by charring different types of wood and then infusing the chips into the cocktails made with Union Gin, a versatile, traditional London-style dry gin, yellow chartreuse, fino sherry, and orange bitters. Charred Orange Wood Alaska # 1 is smoky, bitter, and sophisticated all at once.

Courtesy of Park Kitchen

Portland Meets the Big Apple

Park Kitchen

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Spirit: Clear Creek Distillery's Clear Creek Apple Brandy
Portland Meets the Big Apple is Park Kitchen bar manager Curtis Day’s inspired take on a classic Manhattan with an Oregon twist. Clear Creek’s two-year barrel aged Apple Brandy is steeped with piping hot roasted hazelnuts (or Filberts) for a few hours. The strained mixture is used as the base for a Manhattan (sweet vermouth and bitters) that's as close to apple cider as a cider-less cocktail comes.

Charles Campos

Nature Nurture


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Spirit: Clear Creek Distillery's Clear Creek Plum Brandy
Superbite's Nature Nurture will force you to re-think your misconceptions about plum brandy as a liquor meant just for your grandparents. Clear Creek Plum Brandy, concocted faithfully after the classic French eau-de-vie, is made from fruits grown in the Hood River Valley, and mixed with IPA, Benedictine, plum brandy, lemon, and sage to make up this lovely floral drink.

Courtesy of High-Proof PDX

Moko Ono

Sandy Hut

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Spirit: New Deal Distillery's Mud Puddle Bitter Chocolate Vodka
Born-again Sandy Hut uses New Deal’s popular chocolate vodka in Moko Ono. Surprised as you may be of flavored vodka not being absolutely disgusting, Mud Puddle takes on merely the essence of a dark chocolate instead of the undrinkable syrupy, overly-sweetened stuff we've come to associate with flavored vodkas. This drink is the perfect boozy eye-opener for those who don’t care to go the Spanish coffee route. Alongside Stumptown Coffee’s cold brew, there’s Amaretto and Carolans Irish Cream.

Karen Locke/Thrillist

Pacific Harvest

Bit House Saloon

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Spirit: Aria Portland Dry Gin
If Portland had a booze darling, Aria might be it. The English-style gin has taken off over the last few years, finding itself behind the bars of many of Portland's finest drinking establishments, including Bit House Saloon. Routinely updating its menu with fresh and innovative cocktails, Bit House will soon offer the Pacific Harvest. This not-too-sweet seasonal cocktail is made from a subtly crafted mix of Aria Gin, Pine Zirbenz, Lillet Rosé, Starvation Alley cranberry, vanilla, and a squeeze of lime.

Courtesy of Provenance Hotels

Bluebird Toddy

Driftwood Room

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Spirit: Townshend’s Bluebird Alpine Liqueur
Driftwood Room has mastered the art of the anti-normie toddy. A cohesive mixture of Appleton Estate Rum, Townshend’s Bluebird Liqueur, honey and lavender syrups, and hot water is anything but basic. Alpine Liqueur's bevy of aromatic spices adds a depth of flavor not found in your average hot drink.

Karen Locke/Thrillist

House Manhattan


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Spirit: Indio Spirits' James Oliver Rye
The House Manhattan at Paydirt is everything we want in a Manhattan and with local rye: James Oliver Rye -- Indio's flagship spirit, Carpano Antica, bitters, fancy cherry, served up.

Karen Locke/Thrillist

Green is Trending

SideCar 11

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Spirit: Rose City Distilling's Rose City Vodka
Green is Trending at SideCar 11 is an adult Ecto-Cooler that may hopefully help ward off gout this winter. Rose City Vodka is muddled with spinach and cucumber, lime, sugar, and Dolin Genepy for the greenest cocktail you'll drink this season.

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1. Tasty 'N Sons 3808 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227

With "Tasty" in the name, you know it must be good. This local tapas spot is popular with the breakfast and brunch crowd, but they also have stellar dinner options and a great happy hour.

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2. Ransom Tasting Room 525 NE 3rd St, McMinnville, OR 97128

It was only after 20 some years of producing wine and booze that Ransom Wine & Spirits opened a tasting room, and thank goodness they did. It just makes it all the easier to grab sips of their Straight American Whiskey or Old Tom Gin and pours of organically farmed Pinor Noir or Rogue Valley Malbec. Luckily, the tasting room shares its storefront with upscale deli/grocer Pierano & Daughters, so you're not going sipping on an empty stomach.

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3. The Fireside 801 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210

Fireside burns bright in the space once occupied by Music Millenium, a favored music store in the neighborhood. These days it's all about a different sound -- that of guests eating outdoor-inspired American eats by Chef Henry Kibit in a dining room with a U-shaped bar framed by two fireplaces. Sharable snacks and small plates make up most of the menu, ranging from "pig candy" with bitters syrup and local bee pollen to grilled lamb kebabs with beet & harissa yogurt. Still, larger entrees like saucy cheeseburgers and herb-buttered steak beat campfire-warmed cans of beans. The cocktails -- notably the Feelin' Funky, loaded with cachaca, Cynar, lemon and pineapple -- will get your inner fire going.

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4. Trifecta Tavern & Bakery 726 SE 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Trifecta Tavern and Bakery is a fancy and stylish Eastside eatery where prime steaks, grilled flatbreads, and artisanal cocktails rule the menu. Fresh baked bread and fresh churned butter accompany every meal, which includes daily specials, wood-oven pizzas, and other snacks. Warm cocktails and an impressive wine list are also at your service.

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5. Park Kitchen 422 NW 8th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

With a dining room that spills onto the sidewalk along the green North Park Blocks, Park Kitchen serves elevated American dishes by James Beard Award-nominated chef Scott Dolich. Staff share all responsibilities, from the kitchen to the serving, thanks to a no-tipping policy (it's already wrapped up into your menu price). Locally sourced small plates like beets with lamb pastrami and pumpernickel and mains like pan-roasted turkey with "cider funnelcake" are best when paired with any of the refined cocktails, also poured with Oregon-made spirits.

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6. Clear Creek Distillery 2098 NW 24th Ave., Portland, OR 97210

Clear Creek Distillery is first and foremost about the fruity things in life: operator Stephen McCarthy uses Oregon-grown apples, pears, plums and cherries to make his notable brandies, liqueurs, and grappas. Fruitiest of all is his famous eau de vie, a colorless form of fruit brandy that is known as much for its aroma as flavor. That's not where the spirits stop either: his single-malt whiskey follows the Irish model. Try all the wares when to the barrel-filled taproom any day of the week.

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7. superbite 527 SW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97205

What is a superbite, you ask? The husband-and-wife team behind this restaurant devoted to them describe it as an amuse-bouche or hors d'oeuvres-style small plate that requires no more than three bites to consume. The morsels, which make up a third of the menu, are modern and sometimes unexpected: duck liver-scrambled eggs with caviar and chives or Spaghettios with fresh truffle, Irish butter and Parmesan. Cocktails like Shoulda Woulda Coulda -- which blends Fernet, rye, and French cider -- are just as bold. While larger plates are also on offer, a dinner composed of the namesake small plates is the most fun.

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8. Sandy Hut 1430 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97232

Sandy Hut may have been around for just short of a century here, but that doesn't mean things haven't been shaken up a bit. The dive changed hands and got cleaned up in 2015, and while the bar's character remains (there is still an old-time feel with Al Hirschfeld caricatures and wood-paneled walls), it lost some (but not all) of the grime and got an expanded menu. Joining the burgers and cheap beer you know are crab leg specials and Polynesian-inspired cocktails.

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9. Stumptown Coffee Roasters 4525 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206

Before it became a staple of the New York City and Los Angeles hipster community, Stumptown Coffee Roasters was getting its start in Portland, and here it remains its beloved self. One of the most open coffee shops in the city, with its high ceilings, open brick walls and polished wood furnishing, this local and national favorite serves the best cold brews (the cartoned chocolate coffee seriously just tastes like chocolate milk) and freshly roasted pour over coffee around.

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10. Bit House Saloon 727 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Even though it opened in 2015, there's an age-old feel to the 150-seat Bit House Saloon, named for how much a beer cost before the US outlawed foreign coins in the 1800s. You'll walk up to a bar on floors made from old bourbon barrels to order a whiskey-focused list of specials. But don't expect service as rusty as the brass accents in the space, this saloon has beed lauded for its mixology since landing on the scene. Stay traditional with an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, or dip into the punch-packing proprietary drink list, featuring sips like the Astro City Cracker Jack (popcorn-washed Applejack, smoked maple syrup, Verjus, soda). The food menu is fit to soak up the drinks, with fried pork rillette or smoked chicken wings playing opener to fried bologna sandwiches or a smoked pork plate.

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11. The Driftwood Room 729 SW 15th, Portland, OR 97205

The Driftwood room has been serving swanky sippers of Portland since the 1950s -- and it certainly looks like it. The cocktail bar in the Hotel deLuxe is everything your Old Hollywood fantasy could have conjured, with mid-century wall art, low lighting, smoky mirrors and plush, curvy banquettes. Champagne happy hours are not to be missed, with boozy bubble takes like French 75s or the more local Portland 85 (bubbly, Clear Creek pear brandy, pear liqueur) poured on the cheap. While photos of glamour-loving celebs like Elizabeth Taylor are hung in the space, it's hard to imagine them tucking into the menu of big burgers and milky mac & cheese.

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12. Thomas & Sons Distillery 4211 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, OR 97202

Tea time doesn't mean what you think it does at Thomas & Sons Distillery: the distiller, opened by Townshend's Tea Company, has a lineup of tea-spiked and flavored liqueurs and boozes. We're betting the 35-proof sweet or spiced tea liqueurs pack more bite than anything granny is drinking, too. The brand also veers into digestif territory with its own bottle of Fernet, and specializes in Jasmine green tea-kissed gin. Pours of all of the wares (but no shortbreads) are on offer in a 400sqft tasting room within the greater 10,000sqft production space.

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13. Paydirt 2724 NE Pacific St, Portland, OR 97232

“We have too much whiskey” is the motto of Paydirt, the hip cocktail bar in the center of the Zipper Building. Indeed, they do have a lot of whiskey, and you can grab a decently priced, heavily poured shot and a well-priced tallboy of some domestic lager during happy hour. If you get tired of whiskey you can avail yourself to some champagne or a bucket of the Champagne of Beers, quickly delivered to your table with a single call from the bar’s phone booth.

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14. Sidecar 11 3955 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97211

The emphasis that Sidecar 11 pays to rare and vintage bottles of alcohol is rare these days. The Mississippi bar has become renowned for uncorking historical concoctions that management mysteriously acquires -- from a 99-year-old vermouth to a Blandy's Bual Madeira from 1920 -- and pouring them as monthly specials. Sure, sometimes that means what results is a $40 Manhattan, but it's about the love of discovery. Of course, contemporary sips are on offer, too: from a wide-ranging list of takes on the Manhattan to vintage-style cocktails recreated with today's booze.

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15. Indio Spirits Bottle Shop & Tasting Room 1111 SW Alder St, Portland, OR 97205

Indio Spirits Distillery doesn't just produce whiskey, vodka, gin and rum, they take care to bush boundaries beyond traditional categories with specialty spirits like Hopka: a clear liquor infused with hops usually used to make beer. Standards and specialties can be sampled inside of this bottle shop and tasting room location, an offshoot of the distillery on Durham Rd.