¡Tequila! The Gem of Jalisco Heads NW

by Karen Locke

After trying tequila for the first time, 16th century Spanish conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo wrote in his journal that…


It was the 15th anniversary of Tales of the Cocktail this year and there was a lot to celebrate! Founded in 2002 by Ann Tuennerman, this gathering of cocktail lovers has grown into the world’s premier cocktail festival for the liquor industry and enthusiasts alike. The festival brings together spirit professionals from all over the world in historic New Orleans, and Seattle’s presence is always strong.

Brand recognition is huge in the spirits industry, especially among bar managers tasked with stocking wells with a diverse and impressive spirits list. Although local spirits are intrinsically on many bar menus, local isn’t always better.
So, how can bars and restaurant leaders gain knowledge of available products? One way is at Tales of the Cocktail, which wrapped up July 18-24 in New Orleans.

The South might be whiskey-dependent when it comes to their cocktails but the region’s iced tea game is on point. Taking note from the time-honored Southern sweet tea, Crescendo Spirits in Eugene, Oregon, puts a citrus-and Northwest-spin on the classic.

La Fête Nationale, better known in this part of the world as Bastille Day, commemorates a major turning point in the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Now, the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on this day, and Francophiles the world wide celebrate the day of pride with fanfare.

Accidents often lead to mishaps — but sometimes they lead to new developments — as happened for Ryan Sharp owner of Portland Sangria and ENSO Urban Winery. Sharp was turning out a large batch of rosé in 2010 at ENSO when he realized he had run out of bottles. Not wanting to waste his commodity and needing it out of the tank, he poured it into a keg and blended in some fresh berry juice.

Vermouth was one of the spirits I learned to avoid as a teenager sneaking hooch out of my dad’s liquor cabinet. The floral-infused sweet flavor did not appeal. A fortified wine (a wine in which a distilled spirit, such as brandy, is added) infused with botanicals, vermouth is offered in a range of flavors, from subtle to obtusely herbaceous and sweet.

Ice pops have grown up a bit since you took sugary store-bought juice, Dixie cups and sticks to make homemade frozen pops as a child. One Portland company, Sloshy Pops, produces attractive ice pops with perfect consistency, mimicking the hand-made look rarely achieved at home, with the addition of one thing you shouldn’t have been adding as a child: booze.

It almost seems like something out of legend. The ocean beckons. Man takes sailboat and sets out onto ocean. The weather is calm, the day is young, it is time to anchor. Aboard the vessel there is an unopened wine bottle. John Lundin opens the bottle, he and his wife Jessica ready to drink the contents. It doesn’t take long to realize it is unpalatable. Lundin had been wanting to try stove-top distillation for awhile and now was his chance.
Using just a few implements, he creates a brandy.

During the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest, it can be tough to garner the motivation to head outdoors, especially when it comes to camping. We wait out the bad weather — and like clockwork as the rains concede — we starting digging out our tents, camp stoves and coolers.
Considering our short window for camping out West, why stick to the usual canned beer and craft bottles? This year, switch up your alcohol stash with these essential spirits for bringing cocktails fireside.

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