Sunday, September 19, 2010

MxMo: Lime

Though I've noticed posts on the subject on some of my favorite cocktail blogs from time to time, when I noticed that the most recent Mixology Monday theme was limes, as picked by Doug over at the Pegu Blog, I knew it was time to toss my metaphorical hat into the ring. Lime has always been my favorite complimentary flavor for drinks. It's an obvious companion for everything from rum to tequila to gin. It's safe to say that ~75% of the drinks I make have lime in them either directly, in the form of lime juice, or indirectly, in the form of falernum or some other infusion. With that said, this also makes picking a particular drink that much harder. However, there's one drink that I've been meaning to share that fits the bill rather well:

Caroní Rum Sling
1.25 oz Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva (or other dark rum)
0.25 oz chocolate spiced rum
0.25 oz Cherry Heering
0.75 oz lime juice
0.25 - 0.5 oz simple syrup (to taste)

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

If I remember correctly this was one inspired by Eleven Park Madison, though their cocktail menu has changed since I lasted looked at it, so I can't be more precise than that. Further back, it's also an elaboration on the Olympia. Either way, it's a delightfully rich and spicy drink. The base rum needs a lot of depth to balance out the fairly strong flavors of the spiced rum and the Heering, which is why something like the Diplomatico works so well. And last but not least, the lime juice provides a delightful tartness and keeps the drink from becoming cloyingly sweet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Local Flavor, Pt. I: Clear Creek Distillery

As some of you may know, Portland has been at the forefront of the craft distilling movement. They tend to take cues from the craft brewing movement of the last few decades, emphasizing quality and sourcing local ingredients.

One of the oldest craft distilleries in Oregon, perhaps in the country, is Clear Creek Distillery. A few years back I was fortunate enough to take a tour of their facilities in NW Portland. Back in their cavernous warehouse space are a row of gleaming copper stills, surrounded by their fermenting tanks, bottling lines and other sundry items. Further back is a room devoted to their aging spirits, which literally has a heady atmosphere from the "angel's share" of evaporating alcohol.

I recently purchased a bottle of Clear Creek's 2 year-old apple brandy. The work and dedication to quality that Clear Creek is known for are abundantly clear. The brandy smells exactly like where is came from, dry hard apple cider made from high-quality local ingredients. The alcohol smell is surprisingly subdued for something that was only aged two years, but it's young age also means that the apple flavor hasn't been lost amid oak.

The obvious choice for a cocktail was the Sidecar:

1.5 oz apple brandy
0.25 oz orange-tangerine-kumquat liqueur
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.4 oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

The apple brandy played exceptionally well with the sweetness of the liqueur and was nicely balanced by the tartness of the lemon juice. The liqueur also has just enough spice flavor to fit with the impending change in season. This is definitely a drink I'd like to have again when the weather cools down.

This should be the first in a series of posts I'm planning to write about local distilleries in Portland and the greater NW. It's a growing industry around here and a great time to be interested in spirits.