Sunsets seem to get all the glory, with all their Instagram ‘likes’ and devoted hashtags and people gathering at piers and promenades to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ and clap like dorks (I’ve totally done this, btw) when that fiery ball of light finally disappears on the horizon. But there’s something particularly magical about a sunrise – the birth of something unfamiliar, a fresh start, the promise of a new day. It’s sort of how I feel about a new year…but like on a much bigger scale.
With that in mind, I thought a Tequila Sunrise would make for a fantastic New Year’s cocktail! Everyone seems to know about this drink but I’m guessing you haven’t actually sipped on one of these old timers unless you’ve attended some sort of 70s disco party recently…oooor you actually drank through the 70s and 80s (for that, I’m sorry). I would also hazard the guess that it wasn’t that great. But what happens when you use top shelf ingredients, fresh squeezed juice, and then add Champagne for good measure? Something delightful, that’s what!
With the recent release of the Patron Silver 2016 Limited Edition – a beautiful 1 liter bottle inspired by Mexico’s rich heritage with art deco design, I had my special tequila.
And by using the juice from tiny, sweet mandarins instead of reg ol’ OJ, homemade grenadine, and topping it all off with Champers, we kicked this baby up so many notches. Not to mention those Love & Victory highball glasses made this Tequila Sunrise really Sparkle!
Tequila Sunrise Sparkler
1 1/2 oz Patron Silver 2016 Limited Edition
3 oz Freshly Squeezed Mandarin Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
1 oz Champagne
In an ice-filled highball glass add the grenadine, juice and tequila. Top with Champagne and garnish with brandied cherry and mandarin slice.
Here’s to a beautiful fresh start in 2016. May your fancy highballs always be filled with hope and dreams and top shelf tequila!
Are we really less than a week away until Christmas? Argh! How do I let this happen every year – where I’m scrambling those last few days to get all the stuff in that I should have been doing the weeks prior?! Good thing there’s booze!
With the release of Mount Gay’s Limited Edition XO Cask Strength last month in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Barbados Independence from the British Crown, I was inspired to make some festive rum old fashioneds.
For classic cocktail enthusiasts, the Old Fashioned cocktail remains a mainstay. And when you come across a quality spirit, you don’t want to mess with it too much with a variety of convoluted ingredients. This is the go-to cocktail to have that spirit really come through, and have its qualities remain intact.
Mount Gay Distilleries, the makers of the world’s oldest rum which has been distilled, blended and bottled in Barbados since 1703, released just 3,000 bottles of XO Cask Strength, a limited-edition of its award-winning spirit XO. While I got a sampling of this to play with recently, the actual, full-sized bottle will come in a beautiful keepsake wooden box with a booklet that will take readers through the history of rum’s inception in Barbados. A portion of the sales of every bottle sold will be donated to the Barbados Museum and Historical Society to support its efforts in conserving the significant and inspiring history and culture of Barbados.
If you have a rum enthusiast in your life, this collector’s item is THE gift to give for the holidays. But at a price around $185, they better be deserving! Talk about a top shelf Rum Old Fashioned!
The raw brown sugar in this old fashioned amps up the rich oak and caramel flavors in the XO. The orange bitters highlights the over ripe fruit, vanilla and spice. And the cranberries add a certain acidity that a citrus peel might lend in a traditional old fashioned. And, most importantly, with such a simple cocktail as this one, it will leave you free to stress about all the other things you have to do before the holidays hits you head on! I’ll take a double!
Cranberry Rum Old Fashioned
2 oz Aged Rum (Mount Gay XO Cask Strength recommended)
3 dashes Orange Bitters
4-5 fresh cranberries
1 raw brown sugar cube
Splash Club Soda
Garnish: 3-4 fresh cranberries
Add the cranberries, brown sugar, bitters and soda to a mixing glass. Muddle well. Add the rum and fill with ice. Stir mixture until well chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned or rocks glass over large ice-cube. Garnish with skewered cranberries.
Samples of Mount Gay Rum were provided for this post.
Whiskey, lemon juice, honey…maybe a cinnamon stick. That’s the recipe for a classic hot toddy. Simple, straightforward, and let’s be real, a little boring. I’ve never been crazy about straight up hot toddys unless I’m sick. And even then I tend to doctor it up with ginger or a little cayenne pepper (that’ll put some hair on your chest when you’ve got the sniffles!)
So, I was excited when the fine folks from Maker’s Mark reached out to me to be part of their #MakeItTealicious Hot-Tea Toddy Blogger Challenge. Also, I’m pretty into puns and that hashtag is 100! (I’m like an old person and a tween all at the same time!)
Maker’s Mark and Harney & Sons Teas have joined forces for this challenge (today is International Tea Day, by the way guys!!) and it was so fun to experiment with all of their different sachets…with bourbon, of course! There was a lot of boozy tea toddys made this past week, all in the name of recipe testing!
I’m a huge fan of using tea in cocktails, and earl grey is one of my favorites. With its heady bergamot flavors and dark, rich characteristics, it tends to pair well with spirits. And Harney & Sons has a delightful Winter White Earl Grey that makes for an amazing hot bourbon cocktail.
The addition of maple syrup, a little cream, and freshly ground nutmeg makes this feel just like the holidays! I hope you find this as TEAlicious as much as I did! 😉 Cheers!
Grey Gardens Hot Toddy
1 oz Maker’s Mark
1 cup of Harney & Sons Winter White Earl Grey Tea
1 tsp maple syrup
1 TSP half & half
garnish: freshly ground nutmeg
After brewing the Harney & Sons Winter White Earl Grey tea sachet in a cup of hot water, stir in the maple syrup, Maker’s Mark and half & half. Garnish with freshly ground nutmeg.
Bit by a Fox received these samples without payment.
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, explores and documents the personal style of some of the best bartenders in the industry. For this latest installment, we’re profiling doyenne of cocktails, part-time chanteuse, and all around force of nature, the talented Ms. Franky Marshall. We visited Franky at her resident home bar, Brooklyn Height’s Marie Antoinette-inspired cocktail den, Le Boudoir, where she heads the beverage program.
I’ve never been a t-shirt and jeans kind of person. I like to look good. I dress to be photographed. ” – Ms. Franky Marshall
Franky doesn’t like to play it safe. From a wanderlust that started at an early age, a non-conventional career path and a variety of creative pursuits, to the exotic cocktails she creates to win international spirits competitions, Franky Marshall is, self admittedly, a risk taker.
And you’ll most likely pick up on that the moment you meet her. Franky’s free spirit and fearlessness has a way of translating outward – through her personality AND her sartorial choices. Franky doesn’t do anything halfway.
Fluid. Funky chic. Slightly dangerous.” – Ms. Franky Marshall when asked to describe her personal style
Purple is clearly Franky’s signature color. Even if she’s not fully decked out in it, there’s usually a pop of amethyst in her hair, a bright lilac swiped across her lips, sometimes a lacy, violet bustier with ribbons framing her décolletage…
Franky got her start in the craft cocktail industry about 9 years ago as part of the opening staff of Clover Club, Julie Reiner’s now standard-bearing, hospitality driven cocktail lounge in Brooklyn. And it’s been full speed ahead ever since. She went on to work at the iconic Monkey Bar, helped to open one of New York City’s most acclaimed cocktail bars to date, Dead Rabbit, and has spent the past year, since it opened, as Beverage Director at Le Boudoir.
Growing up in small town in Upstate New York, Franky had an awakening in high school when she met some edgy girls in a French immersion course. The girls ended up inspiring her to dye her hair orange, shave part of her head and embrace her inner punk rocker.
In college, Franky made the decision to study abroad, learned to speak French fluently, and solidified her Francophile leanings (which ended up serving her especially well once she would become a BNIC Certified Cognac Educator in 2014). By college, her style took a decidedly gothic turn. She was more covered up, wore mostly thrift store finds, and peppered her wardrobe with leather pieces.
While her style has evolved and has “toned down”, compared to her more radical goth days, Franky prides herself on her ability to adapt. She stills finds gems at Goodwill and Salvation Army and claims to shop in all departments – kid’s, men’s, and plus size. But what is most important to her is “dressing for the place”.
Le Boudoir is a pretty fun one to dress for. Inspired by Marie Antoinette’s decadent private chambers, the ceiling is modeled after a replica of the actual floors in the palace of Versailles, and a bust of the famed French queen sits regally on top of the bar, overseeing the place.
In order to even get to this lush, subterranean haven, you have to first go through French restaurant Chez Moi, owned by Parisian couple Tarek Debira and Patricia Ageheim. After entering behind a bookshelf and descending a flight of stairs, you’ll be transported to an intimate but lavish room dripping in gilt, antiques, and red velvet.
Franky continues to fulfill her desire for international travel and exploration through her many roles as presenter, moderator, judge and educator for various seminars, bar shows and competitions around the world. She also competes in cocktail competitions herself, and continues to KILL it. It is no surprise knowing her love of trotting the globe, and after seeing the many exotic pieces in her wardrobe, that Franky’s biggest style inspiration comes from her travels.
The pewter glassware collection at Le Boudoir is extensive. The upstairs restaurant opened three years prior, and they had the luxury of working on the bar for nearly two of those years, sourcing a variety of glasses, barware and tools.
When we asked Franky which cocktail on the menu best represented Le Boudoir as well as her particular cocktail design style, she made for us the stunning Jardin Royale, a lovely mix of tequila, grapefruit and lavender.
Jardin Royale created by Franky Marshall for Le Boudoir
1 oz Blanco Tequila
1 oz La Quintinye Extra Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Pamplemouse Liqueur
1 oz Lavender Soda
Garnish: lavender & thyme sprigs, grapefruit twist
Add tequila, vermouth & liqueur to mixing glass, stir with ice. Strain into fancy goblet. Top with Lavender Soda. Express grapefruit oils. Garnish with lavender and thyme sprigs.
We’re only two days away from Thanksgiving and I don’t know about you, but I am NEEDING this little escape of food, booze and loved ones right about now. I think we all do.
While the food takes center stage on Turkey Day, we all know what’s really important while everyone’s waiting for that bird to roast…that Thanksgiving cocktail! But the key to keeping the host(ess) and everyone else happy is a crowd-pleasing pre-dinner drink that is simple to make.
If the recent events I’ve created cocktails for here in Los Angeles have taught me anything, it’s that people LOVE a Moscow Mule variation. And this seasonal take on the mule makes it perfect for your Thanksgiving feast.
I created this drink about a month back for the PixSweet launch party. And it all came about because both Our/Los Angeles Vodka and Bit by a Fox fave, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur were generous enough to help sponsor the event. It was a match made in Moscow Mule heaven. Not to mention a merging of both of my Brooklyn and Los Angeles lives!
But the real seasonal kicker is the limited edition Trader Joe’s Honey Crisp Apple Cider. It’s unfiltered and with a tartness that makes it less sweet than regular apple cider. I’ve included both the Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur recipe as well as one made with ginger beer in the case that you are unable to get your mitts on Barrow’s. You can also batch this cocktail in pitchers so you don’t have to think about it and your guests can help themselves!
Honey Crisp Harvest Mule – makes 1 drink
2 oz Honey Crisp Apple Cider
2 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
4 oz Ginger Beer
2 oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
2 oz Seltzer
Fill a shaker with all of the ingredients except for ginger beer or seltzer. Shake until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled copper mug or rocks glass. Top with ginger beer or seltzer. Stir.
Large Batch Honey Crisp Harvest Mule – makes 12-14 drinks
3 cups Honey Crisp Apple Cider
1 750 ml bottle Vodka
1 cup Lemon Juice
6 cups Ginger Beer
1 750 ml bottle Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
3 cups Seltzer
Batch all ingredients in a large canister and stir. Serve over ice immediately.
Being the first of anything is always a challenge. Blinking Owl Distillery co-owners, husband and wife, and longtime Santa Ana residents, Brian and Robin Christianson know that all too well. After setting aside their careers and devoting nearly four years to conceptualizing, researching and planning the business and build-out of the first craft distillery in Orange County, they’ve finally opened their doors – just in time for California laws surrounding the production and selling of spirits on premise to catch up.
The American craft beer movement started in Northern California in the late 70s and over four decades has grown to have more operating breweries than any other state in the country. But it took up until last year for California (later than many other states in the country) to pass a law granting craft spirits distilleries similar rights as the brewing industry. This is a game changer for the state. And Blinking Owl’s timing couldn’t be better.
Set in an industrial part of Santa Ana, after only two months of being open for business, the distillery has already been embraced by the community and other local businesses. Locally made liquor has been a welcome and much-needed part of the Southern California food and drink scene, and Brian and Robin along with their partner, co-owner and friend Kirsten Vangsness have made it a point to celebrate and pay homage to their community.
From using locally sourced grains and botanicals to produce their spirits to naming the business after a historic mid-century bar in the area that they had heard stories about, they aim to keep it local.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have been big plans and a desire to grow outside of their neck of the woods. Blinking Owl’s state of the art facilities point to their clear ambition to produce well outside their state.
At the moment, Blinking Owl is producing a vodka, an orange flavored vodka made from Valencia oranges grown locally, and an aquavit made with the traditional caraway as well as hibiscus – the flower of Santa Ana.
This month, they plan on producing their first gin. And just this past week, they barreled their first rye whiskey.
Since they plan on milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, and barrel aging in-house, we won’t be able to see any Blinking Owl whiskeys available for a few years from now.
In the meantime, their current spirits line-up is solid. And the Christianson’s passion for what they are doing is palpable.
Brian made us one of their signature cocktails created by local Orange County resident, Kayli Gennaro, which included both their vodka and aquavit.
It was such a lovely cocktail, I wanted to share it with you all here…
The Aquavenus by Kayli Gennaro
2 oz Blinking Owl Aquavit
1/2 oz Blinking Owl vodka
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a coupe glass (or martini glass). Express an orange peel over the drink, scent the rim of the glass, and discard the peel. Slap a sprig of thyme in the palm of your hand to express aromatic oils and drop in glass as garnish.
If you live in the area, Blinking Owl Distillery’s tasting room is open and you can book a tour now! I highly recommend it. When you visit, tell them, Bit by a Fox sent you. 😉
The craft cocktail revival these last 15 or so years has introduced us to the classics, the pre-prohibition tipples dug up from dusty archives with foreign sounding ingredients, as well as the innovative, modern style drinks inspired, no doubt, by the foodie revolution and farm to table movement. And while it can be fun to indulge in some of these complex cocktails made with labor intensive infusions and syrups and a smattering of ingredients you may or may not recognize at your favorite swanky cocktail bar, recreating these types of drinks at home is…not really an option. Enter Kara Newman’s Shake. Stir. Sip.: More than 50 Effortless Cocktails Made in Equal Parts.
With the massive popularity of the Negroni in recent years, a classic equal parts cocktail made with gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, we know by now that some of the simplest cocktails can be the best! And they also can still be incredibly nuanced and complex. From the 50-50 Martini to the Paloma, a lot of our favorites are already traditionally made or can be easily adapted to the equal parts template. Kara has included 50(!) of these easy to make cocktails in this lovely little book! Your home bartending game just got elevated (and easier!)
Divided into 2, 3, 4, and 5 Equal Parts and More, I thought I’d try my hand at one of the easiest and, frankly under recognized, cocktails, the Rob Roy.
Made with just scotch and sweet vermouth, this two ingredient cocktail, a variation on a Manhattan, isn’t always served as an “equal parts” drink.
…often the ratio is two parts Scotch to one part vermouth. That said, this equal-parts version works remarkably well, especially if you prefer a slightly sweeter and less potent pour.
Since the quality of Scotch is fairly important to a recipe where that spirit is half the cocktail, I decided to use the newly released The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old. This is the first time The Macallan has used American Oak Sherry-seasoned casks as the most prominent flavor style in one of its expressions.
Matured for a minimum of 12 years, the resulting product is recognizably Macallan with a hint of sherry. Meaning, it has retained its dried fruit, honey and holiday spice qualities but has a floral and nutty addition on the finish. It made for a wonderful equal parts Rob Roy!
A few dashes of aromatic bitters and a couple of brandied cherries and you are good to go!
However you choose to make yours, be sure to toast the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, where the drink was created in 1894.
Rob Roy (equal-parts) from Kara Newman’s Shake. Stir. Sip.
1 1/2 Scotch Whiskey
1 1/2 Sweet Vermouth
1 or 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
In an ice-filled mixing glass, combine the Scotch, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well, and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with the cherries before serving.
The Longines Masters is a prestigious international equestrian competition that showcases the Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
The series of competitions started its journey in Los Angeles just a few weeks back and will then head to Paris in December, and is capped off in Hong Kong in February. Guess who attended this year’s fancy pants horse jumping competition while having brunch court side with world renown bubbly, Champagne Barons de Rothschild?!
Me, you guys, meeeeee!
Alongside a few spirited ladies…and plenty of other equestrian and champers fans, of course!
Frédéric Mairesse, Managing Director of Champagne Barons de Rothschild, was even on hand to be his charming French self and pour little ol’ me a flute full of bubbles!
Originally produced exclusively for private consumption for the Rothschild family, (the family along with their high level clients and friends consume 150 bottles a day!) but after they realized their high quality, small volume champagne produced in one of the best regions was a hit, the Barons De Rothschild Champagne House was created in 2005.
As we watched some of the best Show Jumping horses and riders in the world, we sipped on their Brut champagne – a perfect complement to the custom-designed menu by 2 Michelin star Belgian Chef Yves Mattagne. Bubbles light as air with a nice level of toast and white fruit, Champagne Barons de Rothschild pairs really well with food but can be drunk very easily on its own. The blend of 3-4 year old Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs gives it a lovely pale, golden color and the low dosage and a good amount of aging in traditional cellars, guarantees a complexity but balance on the palate.
Cheers to fancy Sundays and any excuse to celebrate with a glass of high quality champers! To learn more about the Longines Masters go here. And for more info on Champagne Barons de Rothschild, check out there site.
A couple weekends back I was part of a phantasmagoric, technicolor dream deep in the Hills of Beverly…
There were synchronized swimmers bedecked in the most adorable caps and suits…
…photogenic poofs of cotton candy,
brightly colored flower crowns,
and allll of the beautiful people.
So, what was the purpose of all of this California whimsy and multicolored wizardry?! It was a boozy celebration, of course! Barefoot Wine & Bubbly just re-launched their fruit infused sparkling wines in four different flavors – Berry, Peach, Orange and Pineapple. And yours truly was asked to create some fun cocktails to highlight each one!
As many of you know, I LOVE using sparkling wine to complement a cocktail. It tends to lighten up a spirit forward cocktail, dries out a sweet one, and in warmer months makes an especially refreshing tipple. It’s hard to argue, nearly everything is better with bubbles! But since these sparklers have a fruity essence and a sweetness to them from the residual sugar left over in the winemaking process, I was able to use them in a slightly different way.
In each of the cocktails I created, I didn’t have to use any simple syrup or additional sweetener because each fruit infused wine had its own level of sweetness that worked well with various spirits and citrus. The Berry Bombshell turned out to be one of the most popular that day. Vodka, ginger, lemon and Berry Bubbly!
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz lemon juice
2 oz Berry Barefoot Bubbly
garnish: three berries on a bamboo skewer
Shake vodka, ginger liqueur and lemon juice over ice. Strain into champagne coupe and top with Berry Barefoot Bubbly. Garnish with berry skewer.
The Pretty as a Peach Ingenue was the simplest of all the cocktails. I found the Peach Bubbly was perfect with good ol’ bourbon, and gave it just a touch of southern charm! The lemon juice added just the right amount of acid and made the peach flavor really shine.
Pretty as a Peach Ingenue
1.5 oz Bourbon
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
topped with Peach Barefoot Bubbly
Shake bourbon and lemon juice over ice. Strain into flute glass. Top with Peach Barefoot Bubbly. Garnish with peach wedge.
The Orange Spritz Starlet was inspired by a traditional Italian spritz cocktail. Light, refreshing and with a touch of bittersweet Aperol, this makes a great before dinner drink.
This was also the cocktail that I made for Barefoot Bubbly’s Facebook Live segment with YouTube personality and all around fun lady, Mary Elizabeth. You can still watch it here!
Orange Spritz Starlet
2 oz Orange Barefoot Bubbly
1 oz Aperol (Orange bitter Italian liqueur)
garnish: orange peel
Build all ingredients in an ice-filled wine glass. Garnish with orange peel.
The Pineapple Femme Fatale was my personal favorite and will be perfect heading into fall. It had the most complexity with tequila, Cynar Italian liqueur, lime juice and Pineapple Bubbly. I was surprised by HOW MUCH people loved this one, thinking it might be a little unusual for people’s taste buds. But the combined flavors just really worked!
Pineapple Femme Fatale
2 oz Tequila
1 oz Cynar (Italian bitter liqueur)
.75 oz lime juice
3 oz Pineapple Barefoot Bubbly
garnish: pineapple wedge
Shake tequila, Cynar and lime juice over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and top with 2-3 oz Pineapple Barefoot Bubbly. Garnish with pineapple wedge.
The #FruitInaFlute event was SO much fun and a perfect cap to the summer. But in lieu of attending your own fruit-infused bubbly bacchanalia, you too can recreate the feeling in a glass! Make these hollywood inspired cocktails for you and your friends and you’ll feel as glamorous as these mermaid ladies right here. Guaranteed!
photos courtesy of Barefoot Wine & Bubbly
Last month I had the opportunity to visit House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Oregon, tour the facilities with head distiller, Andrew Tice and get to know founder & distiller, Christian Krogstad – one of the pioneers behind America’s craft distilling revival.
House Spirits Distillery, a forerunner in Portland’s craft distilling community, is now in their 12th year of operation. And after leading the development of the city’s first Distillery Row in Southeast Portland, making the move into a shiny, new $6 million production facility with tasting room last November, they’ve solidified their position as the largest distilling operation in the Pacific Northwest.
The new 14,000 square foot space includes a 3,000-gallon copper and stainless steel whiskey still, one of the largest on the west coast.
The new production facility allows for them to distill six times their previous distilling capacity and they have more than doubled their production of their flagship spirit, Aviation American Gin.
They’ve only been in their new digs for about eight months now, but according to Krogstad, demand for product has them already outgrowing the building. They may soon have to look for another space entirely for the different legs of production. But in the meantime, they’re running a tight ship, producing excellent products and having fun while doing it.
After having spent some time with Krogstad, I can’t help but think that the convivial atmosphere around the House Spirits Distillery is in large part due to his leadership.
A Seattle native, Krogstad spent some formative years post college in Hawaii where he first got into home brewing. After settling in Portland in ’91, initially drawn by the city’s craft beer boom and working in that industry for 12 years, he then looked to craft distilling as the next big thing. Observing the success of the microbrew scene informed his decision to test the industry waters. But it was the resurgence of craft cocktails and ultimately his partnership with local bartender Ryan Magarian that helped to launch Aviation American Gin as we know it, designed with cocktails in mind.
As a longtime fan of Aviation Gin (and after having celebrated their 10th birthday in July with an original cocktail), I was eager to learn about and try all the other products House Spirits is producing.
Volstead Vodka, cheekily named after the father of Prohibition, Andrew Volstead, was also created with cocktails in mind. Made with pure Cascade mountain water and filtered through charred coconut husks, this vodka went on to win the 2013 Gold Medal at the 2013 SF World Spirits Competition.
I LOVE a coffee liqueur and House Spirits Coffee Liqueur is a lovely take on the category. Using pot-distilled rum made with Barbados molasses and then blended with cold pressed coffee from Portland’s famed Stumptown Coffee, this stuff was made to be sipped on its own, but would also be fantastic in a cocktail.
Aquavit, a traditional Scandinavian spirit, usually distilled from grain and flavored with botanicals, namely caraway seed, is having a bit of a renaissance. Many bartenders specializing in craft cocktails have discovered it to be as important as a base spirit as vodka or gin. Coming from a desire to honor his family’s Scandinavian heritage, Krogstad had House Spirits produce aquavit early on in their development. They now produce two expressions, the unaged Krogstad Festlig Aquavit, made with only two botanicals, caraway seed and star anise and Krogstad Gamle Aquavit, aged in premium French oak wine barrels for 10-12 months, available once a year.
Rounding out House Spirits’ portfolio is the fantastic Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey launched in 2013. Using locally sourced barley and then fermented with ale yeasts, this malt whiskey, inspired by an Irish style of whiskey making, then has to spend two and a half years in new American oak barrels.
Head distiller, Andrew Tice, had me taste the whiskey wash, also known as distiller’s beer – essentially the beer that is to be distilled into whiskey. This normally is not very tasty, tends to have off flavors, and no one would voluntarily drink this unless they were in the business of distilling. But Westward Whiskey’s distiller’s beer was incredible. Like a Saison ale – earthy, fruit forward, nutty, complex and extremely quaffable! Maybe it’s because both Krogstad and Tice have craft brew backgrounds or they’ve just hit on something magic in the process, but if they ever want to go back into the beer business they may have something here!
In any case, this quality wash also creates a beautiful whiskey. And the new facility will allow for even more of it to be produced and aged. They predict 1000 barrels of the stuff in their first year.
To go behind the scenes on my tour of House Spirits Distillery, check out the Snapchat video I made that day below. Many thanks to Christian and Andrew and everyone who helped facilitate this amazing experience. I highly recommend visiting their Tasting Room the next time you’re in Portland. The space is beautiful, the people are lovely and extremely knowledgable and the spirits (and cocktails!) are top-notch. More info here.