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by Erin James

Welcome to Sip Northwest’s Bar Tab, a weekly selection of what to drink in the Northwest now. Come on in,…


Many years ago, at a casual book launch event for Seattle chef Jerry Traunfeld (then of The Herbfarm Restaurant), I had an amazing bite of food. In a small bowl, Traunfeld soaked a mix of dried stone fruits in an intoxicating bath of vanilla beans, fresh rosemary and apple brandy. A subtle touch, the brandy gave the fruit an earthy, pleasing balance against the sweet cloy of natural sugar and made an impact that has lasted.

In general, it’s incredibly hard to get absinthe right, thanks to the spirit’s rocky history, complex flavor profile and long list of specialty ingredients. That’s why this particular Seattle-born liquor—which won gold in our Best of the Northwest 2015 after already having garnered an honorable mention in 2014—is such a pleasure to sip.

Five years into brewing their highly sought-after, barrel-fermented peach sour, Fantasia, Upright Brewing has come close to perfecting it. Each batch is made with fresh peaches from Dayton, Oregon’s Baird Family Orchards, aged in oak for at least a year and conditioned in the bottle before release.
The result is a soft, golden beer, with tiny, effervescent bubbles that lie gently in the mouth and pop to produce a huge aroma of summer fruit.

It was the Alfalfa Leafcutting bee in Australia that lead Ron Bitner to Riesling. The tenured grapegrower also had nearly ten years under his belt as the proprietor of Bitner Vineyards when he came to his winemaker and neighboring vintner Greg Koenig about making dry Riesling from the Caldwell, Idaho estate.

The monumental Bend beer scene has done more than impact the brewery world—it’s also paving the way for cideries in the craft savvy Central Oregon city. With the foundation laid, the beer culture is also showing its affect on cider, from hops and Belgian yeast strains to popular styles. Atlas Cider Co. was one of the first in the handful of Bend cideries to step up and embrace its Bend beer heritage and does so with its flagship, session-style cider.

Badger Pocket (according to Skip Rock Distillers, who gave their potato vodka line the same name) is “more than a place on the map. It’s an attitude that is shared by many that are lucky enough to call this place home.” This Central Washington locale is all about taking things slow in a fast-paced world—and, it would seem, distilling with a matching brand of intention and care.

Bill Grassie wears a number of hats: father, grandfather, husband, sales operations director for Dell, master gardener and, more recently, winemaker. Graduate of South Seattle Community College’s Northwest Wine Academy, Grassie and a few of his fellow grads opened a shared winemaking space in Woodinville, Washington, and William Grassie Wine Estates launched with the 2011 vintage.

The Similkameen Valley is one of the hottest regions in the British Columbia wine scene and is now on the map for cider. Since the summer of 2014, Twisted Hills has continued to serve and sell out of their craft ciders in the valley’s southern corner. Owned and operated by wife-and-husband team Kaylan Madeira and Jo Schneider, the young farming couple planted their own organic orchard, comprised of cider apple varieties used exclusively for cider.

Founded by two Northwest natives, Elm Coffee Roasters are fulfilling the demand for good coffee in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood and are answering the increasingly louder call for lighter roasts. Elm Coffee roasts to unveil the natural flavors and characteristics of the beans, sourcing from small-lot farms around the globe and catering the roast to each style of the coffee bean.

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