Great American Distillers Festival

Posted by TraderTiki on August 27th, 2007 — Posted in Brandy, Events, Gin, Rum, Tasting

This past weekend was Rogue’s Great American Distillers Festival. There were over 40 local distillers on site, sampling their wares. A lot of the distillers were part of the Oregon Distiller’s Guild, a guild supporting and promoting local Oregon distillers. There was also a mixology competition put on by Imbibe Magazine. Bartenders from a few of the finer restaurants and lounges were there competing for a cash prize, trophy, and a subscription to Imbibe magazine. The mixology competition was separated into several liquor categories. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for the first day, but, most importantly, I was there for the Rum competition.

My initial impression was enthusiastic. The event ranged over 4 stories of the Gerding Theater (an old National Guard Armory from 1891). The ground and top floor had the distillers, and the bottom most floor contained the mixology competition. I was really impressed when the first thing on the menu was the Aviation, followed by Satan’s Whiskers, La Floridita, and other classic favorites.

There was a great mixture of various liquors available. Most notably were the number of vodka options, but there was a surprising (and surprisingly good) number of Gins available. I was able to sample about half of the variety that was there, and I wrote down a few quick notes to share.


  • Prichard’s Fine Rum: non fragrant but needs to sit for a small time to open up. Hints of butterscotch, oak, caramel and vanilla. Made in Tennessee, and tasted like it. A lot of strong Bourbon notes. This was the only rum used in the Mixology competition. It mixed well with other strong flavors.
  • Rogue Dark Rum: A lot of strong hazelnut flavor in this, which is probably why they now make a hazelnut spiced rum.
  • Triple Eight Hurricane Rum: Pear and vanilla front taste, slightly bourbon middle with a light vanilla scent.
  • Cockspur 12 year old: The classic, from Barbados, and so much of what a rum should be. Sweet, savory, slightly smoky, just fantastic stuff.

Other news is that House Spirits will be offering up a Rum next year, and given their talent with their Aviation Gin, I look forward to it.


  • Philadelphia Distilling Bluecoat Gin: The Sweetest Dry gin I’ve ever tried, with a lot of berry to it. Very tasty, very sweet.
  • House Spirits Aviation Gin: Notes of citrus, spice, and strong juniper. I need a bottle of this.
  • BenDistillery Desert Juniper: Lightly alcoholic (very low proof), with a nice juniper flavor.
  • Rogue Spruce Gin: Another conifer-based liquor, the spruce tips mixed very well with the Gin, giving a lot of sharp bold notes and spiciness to it.

I really, really need to get a few more bottles of Gin around the house. Ever since my first experiments with Tanqueray as a teenager, this is a liquor I truly love and need to know more about.


  • Clear Creek Distillery Douglas Fir Eau de Vie: Like drinking a Tree. I can understand why the distiller doesn’t want this being mixed with (and at its pricepoint, I understand from my own perspective). It’s a wonderful and surprising flavor that I could see pairing amazingly wel with Pimento Liqueur.


  • House Spirits Krogstad: Fairly light caraway flavor, would mix really well in a drink that called for Aquavit.

The Mixology competition, hosted by Imbibe magazine, featured a number of talented and experienced bartenders from the Portland. The restaurants represented included SauceBox, Teardrop Lounge, and a few other local imbiberies. Rules involved 15 minutes to mix 4 drinks, and a liquor from one of the distillers at the event had to be used as the base liquor. The concoctions brought for the event were a pretty strong mix of the classic and the nouveau movement. David from Teardrop, who I had the pleasure to mix words with over the inclusion of Falernum in their Mai Tai, even represented Teardrop with a Gin and Tonic. The Gin was Aviation, and the Tonic a homemade blend made specifically to pair with the Aviation. Having had a sample of both, I must say they would indeed blend well, with lots of spice and citrus notes. I will definitely be dropping by Teardrop in the near future. There is a passion to the drink there, and that is definitely after my own heart.

There were quite a few drinks using Rosemary. Something I would never think to use, and something I don’t see looking for in the flavor profile of a drink, but on trying the “Portland Streetcar”, I found the mix of Rosemary and Lemon Verbena really interesting and complex, almost like Chartreuse in character. I could really see using these savory herb in a nice bitters.

Sadly, no Tiki bars were represented. The two in town being Thatch and The Alibi. Thatch is still up and coming, and needs a few original drinks, but the Alibi has given way to the Rum and Coke wants of a Karaoke bar. Sad but true about the old Tiki haunts of times past, but it never was famous for its original drinks, as far as I know. Maybe someday I’ll step behind the bar, but meanwhile I’m pretty happy down in the Galley.

The GADF was a very nice event, where I got to meet a number of fantastic people, the owner of my favorite liquor store, the fine people at Imbibe, and a few more of the local bartenders and mixologists. I very much look forward to next years event.

 Update, more writeups on the event.  Thanks to Phil from Lamb Martini.

Brandy Milk Punch

Posted by TraderTiki on August 2nd, 2007 — Posted in Brandy, Morning Cocktails

Much thanks to Darcy O’Neil for his post on Brandy Milk Punch.

They’re not often heard of beyond the Bloody Mary or Mimosa here in the west, but breakfast cocktails have been around since man first thought to mix 2 parts hair of the dog with 3 parts morning after medication (eggs, milk). I’ve been aware of milk punches for awhile, but finally was inspired by Darcy’s Brandy Milk Punch post. I’ll let you head there for the recipe.

I’m not going to say it was a complete flop, but just reinforces how much the right ingredients are necessary. For the Brandy, I used Christian Brother XS. My experience with Brandy is pretty much limited to my parents’ Hot Toddies, with the ancient bottle of Christian Brothers brought out only during the winter holiday season. Beyond Christian Brothers, I’ve had a few excellent Pear Brandies, but still haven’t found that Brandywine so lovingly discussed as the drink of heroes. Christian Brothers seems, like so many brands, to have a bit of a sharp burn just to remind you who they are, almost as though they are branding your memory via your tongue. So, I can’t really say the Brandy mixed that well. However, I will give it credit in that there was not a drop of half and half or whole milk in the house.

Milk or cream is something that just cannot be skimped upon. A bit sadly, we live in a world (well, at least I do) that has moved on from Cow’s Full milk, the kind that invades your cereal’s bright colors, and sticks to the roof of your mouth. Nowadays, in this household, it’s skim skim skim. I used Skim Royale, a whipped concoction attempting to make skim milk more like 2%, but I’m now seeing, or really, tasting, the error of my ways.

When a proper cream is used, the flavor can be so spectacular, hiding any alcohol burn from the spirits. In this case, however, the Skim Royale had met its match, and laid down to die. The nutmeg, taking up the call, decided to increase the spicy burn of the Brandy. I was a little overzealous (had to take a pretty picture!).

A failure? Partially. A misery? No. I will say this though, my morning is feeling very eXtra Smooth. As my dear friend Craig would say “How else would you stop the shaking in the morning?”

Brandy Milk Punch