The holiday season, with its many blessings, is still marching on, but the exchange of gifts is near an end. Sure, there are a few odds and ends still yet to arrive, but for the most part the gifts have been given, and are now being devoured ferociously by the happy expectants. For me, Christmas came a bit early this year with my trip down to Forbidden Island, where I picked up the Bumper Sticker, (new) Green Forbidden Island mug, and Mister Mojito Muddler with Forbidden Island Logo. All of these, of course, available at Forbidden Island.
I also received a rather significant amount of books, including Imbibe! (which I’ve already devoured), Tiki Modern, What to Drink with What you Eat, and Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. Not pictured is the Peter Pauper’s Drink Book, a nifty little number from 1964 with some great illustrations.
There were also some great accouterments for the bar! Apparently, I was on the nice list this year. There’s the Starboard Light decanter filled with homemade Creme de Menthe, an Electric Ice Crusher (aka - the ultimate time saver), a re-upholstered Barrel-style foot stool, all gifts from Craig and Heather! The strangest gift though has to be a decanter shaped like a Skunk, with faux fur and little baby-skunk mugs that fit into its back. I’ll be putting up a picture later, it has to be seen to be believed.
Hope your holiday haul was as good if not better!
and by the time I was out the door, I was missing it already.
I gush, I do, but it’s well worth the praise. If you haven’t yet been to Forbidden Island, go now. Especially now that hot drinks are on the menu.
I was greeted at the door by bartender Jessica, who had expected me to arrive and had a special treat she had made for the house, a Bacon-infused Bourbon! Yes, at first it was a bit confusing even to a bacon aficionado like me (bacon=good), but the flavor was wonderfully savory. The Maple Leaf she would later serve proved to be well met by the Bacon bourbon, and I would advise its potential as part of a fully balanced breakfast.
Then, the man, the master, the minister came out, and much drinking was to be had.
The night started off with a Nui Nui. Seeing as I had made Martin a few when he had come up, I figured I’d see how his house’s chops were faring, and they were fantastic indeed. Complex, spicy, multi-layered and fantastic, it acts as a great introduction to the crowd that expects anything Tiki to involve pineapple juice and an Orchid garnish. This was one of the first I had to make out of Sippin’ Safari, and is now part of the regular menu at the Galley.
Following the Nui Nui was the equally great Dead Reckoning, as developed by Martin. It’s a really strange list of ingredients that don’t seem like they would work well, but make some unexpected flavors, with the tart shining through what seems like should be a bucket of sweetness. Maple Syrup and Tawny port, who would have thunk it?
I had to take a bit of a breather to sample some of the other wares behind the bar, have some conversation, and welcome some of the Ohana from Tiki Central. Some of the items sampled included Creme de Violette, an aged Genever (mind-blowing), some Batavia Arrack, Martin’s own Falernum, Hibiscus Liqueur, and a few other odds and ends.
Seeing as ’tis the season, the warm drinks menu was just printed and fresh up. Having read Wayne Curtis’ …and a bottle of Rum, I’ve been dying to try a nice flip, and answering that call was the recently introduced Flippin’ Flip, a heated concoction of beer, ginger syrup, lemon and rum. This was a nice winter warmer, and helped soothe a stomach that was starting to hit the motions after a few days of boozing it up. The beer was not a bitter point at all, but the hops were nice and aromatic. The fizz once the glass hit bottom was a different texture than I was expecting, but the drink was very well made, and I plan on throwing together some of my own using the local Bridgeport Ebenezer Ale.
After this, being quite deep in my cups and horribly indecisive, I went with Martin’s suggestion, which was a 151 Swizzle. Three drinks and then some into the night, and I’m being served 1 and 1/2 ounces of 151 Demerara! The man likes me, but obviously hates my liver. The nutmeg on top provided a rather clever nose, and the scent lasted as a flavor throughout the drink. It just looks great contrasted with the green lime and mint too. The Pernod acts as a nice carrier, but gets surprisingly overwhelmed by the spicy smokiness of the Demerara. I’m so used to Pernod dominating, so this was very nice. Continuing to gush on the garnish, however, the wrapped napkin is one of the most interesting bits I’ve yet seen, and added a nice touch that didn’t make it, appearance-wise, the next brownish thing in a chimney glass.
As we approached last call, I was soon surprised with the last drink of the night, the “Stutz”. Stutz, stutz… now where have I seen that name before. Well, anyway, the drink was well made, with a lot of tartness and sweetness balancing each other out, and letting the spice from some cinnamon syrup come out and play.
Last call came up, and what did I order? A big ol’ glass of ice water, with a dash of lemon of course. You have to know your limits, and I’ve found that drinking a nice big glass of water next to my cocktails helps with cleansing my mouth for the next sip, and cleansing my bloodstream for the next morning.
Just past midnight, the doors were closed and we parted ways once more, and I returned the next morning to Portland. The Missus, however, just left to California to visit with family for the holidays, and for her own visit to Forbidden Island.
My many thanks to Martin and Rebecca for their hospitality and conversation, to Jessica for her dedication and talent behind the bar, and Hanford, Mai Tai and Coco Loco from Tiki Central for chit chat and a sharing of drinks. I may call Portland home now, but never feel too far away when sitting at the bar.
I’m back home from my trip to California. That was far, far too little time to spend with so many places I didn’t get to visit. But don’t worry, I tried to bring back as much booze in my bloodstream and baggage as I possibly could.
Tuesday night was spent at Bourbon and Branch with some family who live in town. The decor is gorgeous, the drinks are fantastic, and really any place that starts off with an appetizer drink gets a thumbs up from me. We kicked off the evening with the starter, which was something with Sparkling Wine, Benedictine, and a touch of Kirschwasser. But I already knew the first two things I would be ordering. First up was the Black Manhattan, with Vya Vermouth and house-made coffee bitters. It was smooth and calmly sweet, like a good Manhattan should be. I’m going to have to start off a batch of Coffee Bitters myself, as they were quite nice. Alongside that concoction, I had a bit of the Rittenhouse 21 yr Rye, which was absolutely astonishing. I can honestly say my palate just isn’t experienced enough yet to fully appreciate it, but the aging was just right, and the characteristics of the Rye really stood out.
I was soon convinced, after some excited discussion about their own barrel of Buffalo Trace, to try their Harvest Manhattan, which used their own Bourbon infused with Apples and spices, and a raisin and spice infused Vya Sweet Vermouth. This drink was, as I had to drunkenly describe, eminently quaffable. So smooth and delicious, with the apple, bourbon and raisin all coming out so nicely, I could’ve filled a Collins glass and downed it, it was just so satisfying. The night ended, as we were redirected to the Library, with a Last Word. Can’t go wrong with that one, and they made mine just right. The place was class to the nines, and I can’t wait to go back and sit at the bar.
Another exciting stop while in CA, and outside of the confines of a liquor controlled state, was at John Walker and Co. I was recommended the place by Martin, and I was not disappointed… well, there was no Creme de Violette, but I can forgive. Great thanks to Lance for letting my know that the TSA has a limit on alcohol you can bring back (5 Liters, nothing over 140 proof… so about 6 bottles). So, knowing I could only bring back so much I had to choose wisely. I think I did well, but I can’t stop thinking about what I had to leave behind.
That’s BlueCoat Gin, Genevieve, Laird’s Bonded Straight Apple Brandy, Vya Sweet Vermouth, and two bottles of Batavia Arrack. I will be one poor but happy mixing fool this holiday!
I still haven’t told of my adventures to the Island of Alameda, but I think that deserves its own time and place.
Hey there folks,
due to circumstances beyond my control, I’m finding myself heading back to Sunny California for a very brief visit.
I’ll be heading to Bourbon and Branch tonight for the first time, and will be making a short trek down to Forbidden Island on Tuesday evening. Wednesday my Rum and Rye soaked carcass will be boarding a plane back home to PDX, hopefully full of non-OLCC listed goodies.
E-mail me (tradertiki at tradertiki.com) if you want to meet up.
Meanwhile, sitting at home are a few projects for Christmas gifts, experimentation, and other concoctioneering. This includes a new batch of Falernum, Ginger Beer, two styles of Shrub, Creme de Cacao, and something that I can really only explain with a picture.
Just a quick note that I updated the Library. There’s some good picks in there for friends or family who are into this thing we call booze.
Of course, my wish list is up there to, he says with a wink and a nudge.