Posted by TraderTiki on September 12th, 2007 — Posted in Bilge, Gin

I was just picking up some strawberries at the store yesterday, in order to make Tequila por mi Amante, and something stuck in my head.. now where did I just see something involving strawberry. Considering I check about 20 or so cocktail blogs daily, it can be a bit of a blur. But, reloading my visited sites, I spotted the Bloodhound over at Underhill lounge. Head there and hit his ads for the recipe.


This is a very delicate drink, with the crushed fresh strawberry, which came straight from the farm and was absolutely fantastic. I’d make a syrup, but my I’m just about out of empty containers at the moment.

What is interesting to me, as I ramble on, is the use of fresh fruit ingredients. There was not a strong strawberry flavor to this, as the strawberry rode on the back of the vermouth and gin. The strawberry instead nuzzled warmly in the other flavors, peaking out a bit at the apex, and resuming its mingling. Fresh fruit or juice will do that to you. Artificial ingredients or most store bought syrups tend to have very flat, easily identifiable but very blunt flavors. Fresh ingredients carry the full wave of taste, including the occasionally lost flavor (fruit is mostly water, after all), but then resurging, leaving a bit of aftertaste, and so on.

Man, just makes me happy the day I was weaned, and quickly, off of Rose’s Lime Juice. I can’t even recall the last bottle I bought.

So go out there, get some fresh fruits, and mix up a storm!

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.

Cream Gin Fizz

Posted by TraderTiki on August 9th, 2007 — Posted in Don the Beachcomber, Drinks, Gin, Morning Cocktails, Sippin' Safari

Cream Gin Fizz

Turning through the pages of Sippin’ Safari, what instantly catches my eye but the Cream Gin Fizz!  How wonderful that my obsessions with Breakfast Cocktails and Tiki mix so wonderfully.

So, gathering up my trusty shaker, some ice, and other accoutrements, I set about to the recipe from page 73.

A delightful mix, the all lime really makes it sparkle, and differentiates it from the flowery sweetness of the Ramos Gin Fizz.  The other advantage?  No egg white.

Understand, if someone told me the Zombie was originally mixed with bull’s blood and sheep urine, I’d be in the pasture with a knife and measuring cup.  However, there are some folk out there that find animal ingredients just a bit too “ooky”.  So, while not my choice, I’m always up for whatever the crowd is paying for, and glad to add this non-egg morning fizz to my menu.

Out in Orbit, the Jupiter Cocktail

Posted by TraderTiki on August 3rd, 2007 — Posted in Classic Cocktails, Drinks, Gin, Recipes

There was a post about this, that or the other… oh yes, the obscure ingredient Parfait Amour. Well, having had an unopened bottle on my shelf for quite some time, I finally felt inspired after reading through this archived post on Cocktail Chronicles.

And so, finally hearing the satisfying snap of a newly opened bottle, the Parfait Amour was poured, and yee heavens what came out. A nice soft unfermented, very sweet grape flavor. Which, strangely enough I had no expectation of considering the bright purple coloring of the liqueur. The orange juice fresh, the gin Aviation, and the Vermouth D’aquino Dry. The vermouth is from Trader Joe’s. It was super cheap, and Trader Joe’s usually stocks some high quality stuff. As a vermouth, it’s fine, but I’m no expert in those flavors.

So, onto the cocktail! As it sits in my hand, then down my gullet, the orange and grape interplay in a very interesting manner. Using fresh squeezed orange juice can tend to impart a bit more orange-water than strong orange flavoring, so it’s nice that all the sharp notes took a backseat to let each other play around. It’s light, refreshing, and lightly complex, with the Vermouth and Gin in a “battle of the flowers” as it passes across the tongue. It’s a very nice, well made cocktail, albeit the color is, as I was warned, a bit grey. This is no matter, really, but a bit of flourish in the cocktail is part of the experience. I went with a purple umbrella for garnish to try and bring out the purple in the drink, but it does appear a bit washed out.

Jupiter Cocktail

Jupiter Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin (Aviation Recommended)
  • 3/4 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon Orange Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Parfait Amour

Shake with ice, and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Now, please understand I make no insistence that I have any more knowledge than any other cocktailian, mixologist, or booze slinger out there. But here’s a tid bit I was taught in both bar tending school, and by masters of the art. Before mixing a cocktail, throw some ice in the glass you will be straining into. It helps cool the glass, keep the cocktail cool longer, and adds the much desired beads of condensation, which make the drink look that much more appealing. This pretty much specifically applies to cocktail glasses, as given their wide mouth, are prone to loosing their cool pretty rapidly. Just make sure you throw the ice out before you strain.

And yes, yes.. the Tiki Kon wrapup. Coming shortly. I’ll leave out all the miscellany and just keep to the booze. Slinging for 60 people at your home bar can tend to wear you down a bit.

Feeling revived

Posted by TraderTiki on July 31st, 2007 — Posted in Classic Cocktails, Drinks, Gin, Recipes

Nothing beats the mid-afternoon blur like a little pick me up.

In my case, however, after the latest Tiki Kon I need something to wake the dead.

As I was searching through other cocktail blogs, I found the perfect solution in the Corpse Reviver #2.

Corpse Reviver #2

Corpse Reviver #2

  • 3/4 ounce Dry Gin (Bluecoat highly recommended for this)
  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce Lillet blanc
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes absinthe (sub. Herbsainte)

Combine in a shaker with cracked ice; shake and strain.  Garnish with a stemless cherry.

What an incredible balance. It’s funny, in drinks such as this, and The Final Word (which I still need to go up to Seattle to get from Murray), having an even blend of ingredients makes it just fine and dandy. With tropical cocktails, not to discount the rest, there is so much balance with the fruit and liqueurs. I think working with juice can tend to make the difference. To tart or too sweet and next thing you know out comes the simple syrup to balance it out. It’s refreshing to have a nice drink made out of ingredients that won’t go bad in two days.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why the Maraschino cherry came out so dark? Well, that ain’t no corn syrup and red #5. That’s the real deal. Made by Luxardo, and found at the Uptowne Liquor Store in town. $15 far a small jar, but the difference makes all the world. I was introduced to real Maraschino cherries by Martin Cate, and I haven’t been the same since. The surrounding syrup is thick like blood, it clings to the cherries delicately, and moves around in the drink, without harming the flavor, but encouraging the berry and citrus to come out. And when that delicate little morsel is finally partaken of, it leaves the memory of itself on the bottom of the glass. Red, thick, and fantastic.