When Il Solito opened in downtown Portland last spring, it had some shoes to fill. Taking over from its also-Italian, long-tenured predecessor Pazzo, which had closed in January 2018, a nostalgic touch was brought to the new restaurant, from the handmade traditional pastas to the Mediterranean tiles lining walls.

The cocktail menu is no different, with the bar using popular Italian digestif amaro making its way into a number of cocktails including this spin on a classic Sidecar.

The mastermind behind this local rendition, bartender Will Reeser found inspiration in Oregon brandy and amaro.

Clear Creek is making some incredible brandy and the pear version is particularly delicious for winter,” Reeser says. “I wanted to take that and impart a bit of our Italian essence in it, balance out the sweet with some herbal notes. Amaro, like Calisaya from Elixir Craft Spirits in Eugene, is so complex in flavor and number of ingredients, that you’re able to use it and make seemingly simple cocktails that are really interesting.”

Reeser says in this cocktail the brandy brings the heat with pear essence while the Calisaya offers depth and complexity. That said, his ideal winter setting to enjoy it is outdoors, in front of a fire.

Hood River Sidecar
Makes 1 cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Clear Creek Distillery Pear Brandy
1/2 ounce Elixir Craft Spirits Calisaya
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce pear purée*
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: candied pear slice

Add all ingredients in to a shaker tin, adding ice at the end. Shake and double strain into a coupe. Garnish with a candied pear slice.

*You can buy pear purée from specialty stores as well as online or make it yourself. Wash and peel 1 pear. Cut it in half to remove the seeds and stem, then place in a pot full of water, bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes to soften. When cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces and place in a blender, puréeing until smooth.