When it comes to liquor varieties, brandy is as old school as it gets. The spirit dates back to the earliest recorded times in world history. During the 17th century it was an essential part of daily life. Although brandy hasn’t had a real moment in the spotlight in recent years, it’s essential for so many cocktails we know and love like the Sidecar, Vieux Carre, Corpse Reviver and more.

Beverage leader McMenamins production doesn’t date back to the birth of brandy, but they’ve been at it for quite some time. The distillery is often overlooked as an major Oregon producer of craft spirits. In fact, the empire has been around for much of Portland’s growth in both distilling since the distillery first started producing spirits in 1998.  

With a concentration on rum, whiskey and brandy, McMenamins released High Council brandy in Washington and Oregon in November 2017. Part of that affinity for brandy has to do with the still at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse Distillery, which is a century-old Charantais Alambic Cognac pot still perfect for brandy production.

High Council uses a wine grape base of Semillon, Chardonnay and Viognier and then it was aged for four years in French oak. The oak aging isn’t over the top though, instead there are aromas of melon with mellow caramel. It’s a bit fruity too, with nuances of berry and vanilla notes at the end as you’d expect from a traditional brandy.  

“​We’ve highlighted traditional distillation methods and sourced unique Northwest grape varieties to create a brandy that reflects our company’s innovation while respecting history and tradition,” says Clark McCool, distillery manager at Cornelius Pass.

Grab a bottle of High Council brandy at an Oregon or Washington McMenamins’ location or at the McMenamins 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop in Portland before the limited-run 115 cases are gone. 

High Council Sidecar
Makes 1 cocktail

1 1/4 ounces High Council brandy
1 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: lemon slice, orange slice

In a mixing tin, combine all ingredients. Add ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar. Garnish with lemon and orange slices.