Last weekend Scott and I headed to Portland for a weekend where our main goal was to try as much beer as we could. We’d made the plans in January when it was dark and rainy and hopeless and beer sounded like a damn good idea. It turned out that the weather that weekend was one of those perfect pockets of Spring where it’s 70 and sunny and you just want to sit outside and talk about how great sunshine is. Which is basically what we did, every meal and sip of beer was done outdoors. Or at least near a really big open door. It was ah-mazing considering it was still March.
I was armed with a few places in mind and a recent copy of Beer West magazine that has an article on all the beer destinations along Division Street. Most of the restaurant recommendations friends had given me (Pok Pok being mentioned the most often) were on Division Street and I started to wish our hotel had been in that part of town because we kept returning to it.
When we arrived our first stop was at Hopworks Urban Brewery which is huge. They have outdoor seating in the front as well as an upper back deck. Right now they are doing a single hop series of IPAs, I tried a sample of the Simcoe and discovered that I don’t prefer Simcoe on it’s own. I wish I lived closer and could sample all of their single hops beers because I suspect it would be a cheap and enjoyable beer education. Hopworks has an eye towards being friendly to the environment and we’re hoping to take our bikes to Portland (maybe on the train!) and pedal our way up to their BikeBar location this summer.
That night we walked to Ground Kontrol and drank beer while playing console arcade games and it was so damn fun. The upstairs is filled with rows of old electric arcade games, the upstairs is devoted to pinball machines and yes the games take real quarters which you can get from change machines just like the old days. We had the most fun playing two person House of the Dead, with the rubber guns. We nearly made it through Chapter 3 before running out of quarters! We would have planted ourselves in front of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy (which we’ve played on our PS3) if it hadn’t been occupied.
They have all the old games I could remember, including Joust, Paperboy, and Burger Time. They also have a tabletop four-person Pac-Man (a hem: Pac-Man Battle Royale) that was very popular all night long. The lights above are reminicscent of D&D dice, the tiles in the ladies room are Ms. Pacman themed, the entry tiles (shown above) are Space Invaders. Also, on weekend nights there is a cover ($2? $1?) and there might be a line, which is good because it means the place doesn’t get too crowded. When we were on our way out I noted there was a crowd around a few of the machines but there were plenty of seats at the tables near the bar, where the tables are illuminated. I heart that place.
The next day we got brunch food from the food carts near our hotel (the standout was Liege waffles with brie, arugula and bacon) and headed out to have a picnic. Our goal was to eat under cherry trees which were blossoming in the most spectacular manner that weekend. But it turns out that was everybody else’s goal that weekend too. The area around the trees near the river (and the Saturday Market) were filled to capacity and the Arboretum was packed. So we took the great advice of Sprizee and headed out to Cathedral Park. It was perfect. An expanse of grass leads down to the water just under the Cathedral Bridge, which makes everything feel very dramatic. We had a huge area in the sun all to ourselves and sat and watched dogs playing fetch. We weren’t right under blossoming trees but we did have a view of some, which was good enough. This morning has become the Happy Place I go to in my head.
Next we headed to Hedge House which is the new-old home of Lompoc Brewing. We grabbed seats on the front porch (there are also tables in the front courtyard area) where we watched families walk and bike past. I had the Calling All Monsters IPA which was very good and I remember as worth going back for if it wasn’t a three hour drive away.
Scott wanted to show me the space where the XOXO Festival had been last year and there just happens to be Cascade Brewing around the block. We had samples of their Noyaux (almond) sour, seasonal IPA and the Oblique Black and White Stout, which has the color of an pale ale but has mellow coffee flavors. (Not shown in order above because they all looked the same and it was freaking 70 degrees and aaaawhhhhh.) The Oblique Black and White Stout was delicious and surprising and on our way out of town we stopped to buy a growler of it, which we buckled into the back seat.
That night we met up with Jenna whom I’d met at Hops Academy last summer. We met at Beer Mongers where she gifted us a precious bottle of Pliny the Elder which we can no longer get in Washington. Beer Mongers is a bottle shop that has a big door they can open in warmer weather. I love drinking at bottle shops, it’s still a novelty for me. Jenna knows what she is talking about when it comes to beer and was sipping this IPA made with brettanomyces, which I dearly wished I’d requested a sip of. In any case it was a perfect end to a beer day.
The next day we managed to made it to Sasquatch Brewery before we left. I got to meet Charlie (aka RagnarBeer) at Hops Academy who the head brewer there. I sampled a beer that is is own recipe, Celilo Cascadian Dark Ale and it was delicious. I’m normally not a fan of dark beers but this made me very happy. Sasquatch has a full menu and outdoor seating in front as well as a nice peaceful deck along the side of the building. I didn’t get to see Charlie because he was busy doing something like the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, DC. No biggie.
We stayed at the Crystal Hotel downtown which is part of the McMenamin’s empire. It was surprisingly quiet considering it’s in a noisy part of town, though I was roused by the daily 5 a.m. garbage collection. We took advantage of the soaking pool in the basement and had it all to ourselves. Our bed wasn’t very comfortable but the hotel as a whole was good for the price and location. Most rooms share a bathroom in hall, which I’ve never found to be awkward in a McMenamin’s hotel, but I booked an ensuite room because, well, bathroom.
The staff at the Crystal Hotel seem used to asking if people staying there are headed to the music venues later that evening so one day we were asked if we were going to see Anthrax and the next day they asked if we were there to see Bob Seger. I assure you we are not people who look like we’d be headed to either. At least not any more.
Places we didn’t make it too but I want to hit next time we’re in Portland: The Woodsman Tavern, Kask, The Green Dragon and Pok Pok.
Alright Portland people, what else should I seek out next time I visit? Anything particularly spectacular in the sunshine? Or particularly comforting when it’s rainy and dark?
· comments  · 04-8-2013 · categories:drink · travel ·
Somehow I hadn’t tried mezcal until last week. Happily the two of us have been introduced and I think a long friendship will bloom.
Earlier in the month LUPEC Seattle announced the upcoming event would be all about mezcal and a few days later I found myself looking through the menu at Canon here in Seattle (a must visit, fyi). They happened to have a mezcal cocktail that also include a shaken egg white, which is something I’d just been playing around with making the Ramos Gin Fizz. What emerged was a gorgeous drink that had a smokey and almost spicy foam and oh-my-gosh-people it was delightful. I don’t have a picture of this cocktail because it was too dark. Comfortably dark though, a good sort of dark. I’ll be back there often, I live dangerously close.
Above is shown the mezcal drink I had at Mezcaleria Oaxaca while learning all about the spirit with LUPEC. That charred stick is, I think, a smoked bit of agave. It added enough smoke so that every time I took a sip I got a good amount of smokey scent. It was fantastic. They also offer mezcal flights and, no surprise, I prefer the smokier ones.
That thing about the worm? We learned it’s mostly a legend and is only included in the cheap bottles because tourists expect it to be there. Whew.
· comments  · 08-3-2012 · categories:drink · food ·
||This post is in partnership with smartwater. smartwater, simplicity is delicious. Click here to learn more.
The first time I had a Ramos Gin Fizz I was at the Velvet Tango Room in Cleveland, a bar that takes great care and pride in preparing classic drinks very well. The drink was served in tall glass with a long spoon and had a surprisingly delicious citrus scented foam. I remember the foamy part taking up more than half of the glass and the action of pulling it up out of the glass with the spoon was thoroughly enjoyable. We attempted to recreate this drink at home using a cocktail shaker. We shook it for a very long time, trading off when one of us got tired, until we got that hard-to-describe ropey feeling. All we could produce was a liquid drink with a foam top that could be described as limp. It was still delicious but the novelty was missing.
Fast forward a few years and I was looking into what else could be created with my whipped cream maker. I was looking through recipes for mousses, fast infusions and foams when I came across the hint that some modern bartenders use a whipped cream maker to make a Ramos Gin Fizz. I had to try this for myself.
The classic cocktail shaker versus the whipped cream maker, which has lately been put to a bunch of newfangled uses in innovative kitchens.
Tip: if you’re using a cocktail shaker take the spring out of a Hawthorne strainer and put it into the cocktail shaker, it will help create the small bubbles that you’re going for.
And the winner is:
The whipped cream maker did an outstanding job of recreating the foamy drink I remember. It was so easy it felt like cheating. It came out without any liquid part to the drink but as it sat the bubbles popped and a liquid layer appeared at the bottom. The cocktail shaker, despite my best efforts, only managed to produce a drink with a small layer of wet foam that was not nearly as stiff and lovely. I had three goes at shaking the drink, clocking in at 7:30, 10:15 and 10:30 respectively. I would have given it another try but my left elbow protested. The bartenders at the Velvet Tango Room must have mighty arms. For the sake of rushing it to the camera as quickly as possible I didn’t add seltzer water to either of the glasses pictured above, but I do enjoy it being included.
Ramos Gin Fizz in a whipped cream maker
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 egg white
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water (I used A. Monteux, it comes in a little blue bottle)
about 2 ounces of seltzer
Put your serving glass and the bottle of your whipped cream maker (I have an iSi 1 pint version) into the freezer to chill while you measure out your other ingredients. Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 30 seconds to mix and get everything nice and cold. Strain the liquids into your whipped cream maker and charge it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Shake the whipped cream maker about five times, then dispense into your glass. Note: Be careful and stop before all the liquid is dispensed, the last little bit might splatter in all directions. Add a little seltzer to the glass and serve with a spoon.
It is said that the foam should be sturdy enough to hold a straw straight up. Will it?
· comments  · 07-26-2012 · categories:drink · food ·
When Scott and I moved to Seattle and it’s rather spartan state run liquor stores we found ourselves telling our friends about this magical liquor store that California had. It was the size of a small grocery store, it was well lit and cheerful and sold food, glassware and everything you might need. It was called BevMo and we missed it. Earlier this year liquor sales laws in Washington state changed moving liquor into grocery stores and non-state run retail. So when BevMo invited me on a tour of their new stores in Washington state, Tacoma and Silverdale, I had to admit I was curious. This is what I learned.
We started with some side by side wine comparisons and I really enjoyed the picks by Paul Gregrutt. The Maison Bleue “Au Contraire” 2011 Chardonnay and Abeja Cabernet, both Washington wineries I’d never tried before, were the standouts for me.
This is something exciting and new, the Washington BevMo stores have growler filling stations. The current offerings are Mac & Jack’s African Amber, Georgetown Brewery’s Manny’s Pale Ale, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, Schooner Exact 3-Grid IPA, Widmer Raspberry Imperial Russian Stout, Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, Harmon Brewing Expedition Amber and Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA.
The stores carry local favorites as well. I spied Cougar Gold cheese and Triple-X Root Beer on the shelves.
I was so happy to see Sun Liquor among the offerings. I love their gin. If you’re making martinis the Hedge Trimmer goes well with olives while the Gun Club deserves a twist. I highly recommend a visit to one of their locations, these people make some awfully nice cocktails.
And for those of us who like to be a bit fancy, they had all three kinds of Lillet and a wide selection of bitters. I have only recently tried Lillet and I was an instant convert. It’s true love folks.
John Ueding from Click Distributing introduced us to some his favorite Washington spirits. The Rose Geranium Liqueur from Bravo Spirits was enchanting. Also, the Woodinville Whiskey Company tasting rooms are only a bike ride away, a bike ride I will be taking very soon.
We ended with some beer tastings. I love a big hoppy beer and here are the ones that I fell for.
Silver City Brewery Saint Florian. Saint Florian is the Patron Saint of Firefighters and a portion of the profits go to a Washington State Council of Firefighters benevolent fund. This had a lively and big aroma.
Pike Brewing’s Space Needle Golden Anniversary 2012 Vintage IPA had a citrus aroma that left me sniffing my beer a bit more than might have been completely acceptable in polite company. Pike won a contest to brew this for the Seattle Space Needle’s 50th anniversary this year but I was told that the beer might stay around longer than just this year but if you find yourself near one grab it just in case.
Hale’s Aftermath Imperial IPA is a limited release that also had a huge hoppy aroma. The Hale’s brews seem to be evolving lately and even though I don’t live in the neighborhood anymore I think I’ll be traveling back for a visit. Just Beer has more notes on the beers we tried on the trip.
We came home on the Ferry while the sun was setting, so nice. Thanks to BevMo for a really nice day, I learned a bunch and found a few new favorite things.
· comments  · 07-12-2012 · categories:drink · seattle ·
I’ve been seeing a lot of boozy popsicles up on Pinterest and I’m all in. These are the ones that have caught my eye:
Grapefruit and Strawberry Greyhound from Endless Simmer.
Cherry Wheat Beer from Sweet Remedy.
Strawberry Peach Vodka Popsicles also from Endless Simmer.
Raspberry Limoncello from Everyday Food.
Tequila soaked watermelon wedges from Recipe Girl, and maybe add a stick like the ones below from A Pretty Life:
· comments  · 06-26-2012 · categories:drink · food ·
I’m making another batch of grapefruit tarragon infused vodka (the tarragon gets added on day four, so it’s not shown here). The first batch was delicious and we used more than half of it before I got photographs that show how it turned out. Oops. I’ll try for more restraint this time.
· comments  · 07-27-2011 · categories:drink ·
I found a larger jar, that’s better. (Previously: my first jar was too small, because I have little common sense. See also: recipe for Salted Tarragon Greyhounds at Kitchen Konfidence.)
· comments  · 07-15-2011 · categories:drink ·
Pro tip: When making grapefruit and tarragon infused vodka in order to have some salted tarragon grayhounds ready for Sunday you might want to keep in mind that 750ml of vodka + one whole grapefruit > a one liter jar. Duh.
· comments  · 07-13-2011 · categories:drink ·
A post about my very favorite drink, The Jasmine, is up over here at Outblush. Go forth and sip.
· comments  · 09-7-2010 · categories:drink ·
I made another batch of infused gin, this time using a recipe from Gourmet magazine. I like it a lot more that the first try. This one didn’t call for orange zest, which made a big difference for me since I find orange zest overwhelms everything it comes into contact with.
Ian’s Gin Recipe
(with some very small changes by NotMartha.org)
- 1 (750ml) bottle of inexpensive vodka (I ran mine through a Brita filter a few times)
- 2 Tbsp juniper berries
- 3/4 tsp coriander seed
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp fennel seed
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf, torn into pieces (I used dried)
- 1 (3-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 (2-inch-long) fresh lemon or lime peel (I used lemon and would avoid lime, then again I say this based on the single time I tried a lime infused gin and didn’t find I liked it)
- 1 (1-inch) sprig fresh lavender (I used about a teaspoon of dried culinary lavender)
Infuse juniper in the vodka overnight. Add remaining spices and herbs in the morning and let infuse all day. When you get home from work, strain out the botanicals and start making your favorite gin cocktails.
· comments  · 06-24-2010 · categories:drink · food ·
I made gin! Well, sort of. I infused vodka in the hopes of making gin. I used the recipe I found at Newcity Restro by way of Cinnamon. I think this recipe was originally from the book The Modern Mixologist by Tony Abou-Ganim. I made a few changes based on what I suspected would be orange zest heavy and, well, it still turned out orange zest heavy. (One should note, however, that I seem to be unusually sensitive to the presence of orange zest. I don’t know why, but I find it utterly overwhelms everything it comes in contact with, ruing many a nice pastry, cranberry relish, or chocolate for me.)
The infused recipe calls for running some vodka through a Brita filter a few times. I just happened to have an unused Brita pitcher around (courtesy of last year’s BlogHer Food swag bag) so I did that, though I suspect the step could be skipped.
I took a quick side trip to World Spice down by Pike Place Market where you can buy by the ounce and procured the list of spices (listed below). World Spice, by the way, is awfully fun. They have samples of one ounce examples (surprisingly helpful!) of each offering that you can sniff and examine as you shop, and you write you order on a little clipboard. They also offer a breathtaking number of mixes and rubs and salts.
The recipe has you put juniper berries in first for a 12-hour soak. We were curious and each ate a dried juniper berry. I found it to be very much like men’s cologne, which Scott summed up nicely by declaring it was like chewing on Grey Flannel. Most people declare Christmas tree, we are here to say cologne.
After 12 hours you add more botanicals and let soak for another 12 hours. Here is a before and after:
- Run a 1.75 L bottle of Smirnoff vodka through a water filter like a Brita about three times if you happen to have one. Or skip this step, it likely won’t make a difference.
- Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of juniper berries. Let sit for 12 hours.
- 1/8 tsp fennel seed
- four black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp allspice berries
- 3/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/8 tsp grains of paradise (I added these, you might want to skip)
- 3/4 tsp fresh orange zest (original calls for 1 tsp)
- 3/4 tsp lemon zest (original calls for 1/2 tsp)
- one sprig rosemary
- Let sit for another 12 hours.
- Strain through a a fine mesh, and if you can manage, back into it’s bottle.
It came out smelling vegetal, and while Scott reports that it tastes nice I still find it the orange zest a bit strong, adding a too-sweet note. I don’t dislike it, but I prefer my gin clean and crisp and, yes, pine-y. I realize that this might not be possible to create by infusing spirits. Still, the experiment fun and I might try it again. But first we’ll have to have a cocktail party or two to use this up. Punch anybody?
First let me just say that due to arcane liquor laws in the state of Washington a 1.75 liter bottle of Smirnoff is closer to $30 than $17. I wish I’d halved the recipe as this turned out to be an expensive experiment, and should you live in an area with similar conditions I encourage you to do so.
The final mixture was colored a ginger ale yellow. Not ugly, but not the crystal clear-to-blueish gin I’m used to. I’m sure this had an effect on my perception.
Of all the dried botanicals added the grains of paradise were the only ones that didn’t float. Perhaps it was a bad addition on my part but it is listed as one of the things that goes into Bombay Sapphire. This Wikipedia article on gin doesn’t mention it. Should I try this again I’ll leave those out.
So far my diligent research tells me that this gin in better served with a slice of cucumber than an olive. I will perform more diligent research in subsequent evenings where I don’t require sobriety.
Should I try it again I’ll leave out orange zest altogether, and probably only use half a sprig or rosemary. I will leave out the grains of paradise as well, for the sake of research.
There are, of course, a lot of recipes for infusing your own gin that you can find with a simple Google search. It’ll take a while to test them all but we’re up for it. I think next will be this one from Gourmet magazine.
update: I did indeed try the Gourmet recipe and liked it a lot better, go see try #2 here.
· comments  · 05-24-2010 · categories:drink · food ·
Strawberries have been good this year, have you noticed? Apparently growing conditions have produced a wealth of them but they won’t be available for long (something I overheard at my local market but didn’t get a chance to learn about in more detail, so take it as you will). Some of the nice spring days here in Seattle recently have been very, very nice, so when we found ourselves both home for dinner I made hot dogs, the Magic Juice from Design*Sponge, and we had our first picnic dinner on the porch. The Magic Juice is refreshing, subtle, not too sweet, and really delicious. If you have not tried it yet I hereby recommend you find the intersection of a warm evening, free time and good company and try it out. I hope all three find you this weekend!
· comments  · 05-21-2010 · categories:drink · food ·
Too hot to cook? Too hot to even prepare drinks that require shaking? I can relate, it’s hot here. (Seriously, it was 103 in Seattle yesterday. Nobody in Seattle has air conditioning. Temperatures over 90 get old really fast.) The only thing to do is buy a bag of ice and some grapefruit juice, make some Salty Dogs and sit in front of a fan.
- salt the rim of a glass
- fill glass with ice
- one part gin (or vodka), three parts grapefruit juice
- retreat to cool area
If you’re not a salted rim sort you can skip it, that is called a Greyhound. There are conflicting reports on whether gin or vodka is the proper spirit to use but, let’s face it, it’s too hot to give a damn.
· comments  · 07-30-2009 · categories:drink ·
I made the Peach White-Wine Sangria from Gourmet twice last weekend and found it a bit sweeter than I like, so I changed the recipe a bit the second time around, and I doubled it. Because, you know, when it comes to Fourth of July parties more is better.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- gallon jug
- four cans peach nectar (11.5 ounces each for 46 ounces total)
- two bottles of dry white wine (I used Hogue Fume Blanc)
- zest from one lemon
- juice of two lemons (or 1/2 cup)
- 2 cups of basil leaves
- 15 to 20 basil sprigs
- two peaches, diced or wedged (depending on how lazy you feel and if you want the fruit to end up in the drinks)
Combine the basil leaves, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bruise the leaves with a spoon. (You can also add 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar now if you’d like.) Add two cans of peach nectar and heat until it’s just reached a simmer. Pour through strainer and into a heatproof pitcher (I use an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup at this point) and allow to cool for a while. Discard the basil leaves and lemon zest. Then pour into the gallon pitcher, something that seals if you’re on your way to a picnic (I used the larger version of this Rubbermaid one and it didn’t spill when it fell over in the trunk of my car), something pretty if you’re entertaining at home. Add the peaches, basil sprigs, final two cans of peach nectar and bottles of wine. Chill for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
The mixture will be thick, so serve it over a glass filled with ice, or if you find yourself at a party with no ice (say your friends have owned the house for only a few hours so the party is all bare-bones style) it tastes pretty good mixed with a bit of cold ginger ale. (Thanks to Maggi for that discovery!)
· comments  · 07-6-2009 · categories:drink ·
I’ll buy no kits before it’s time. | Ask Metafilter. Home brewing without buying a kit. At Ask Metafilter.
Cave B Estate Winery. Found via Seattle Tall Poppy‘s Twitter stream, full of great food info.
How to Make Your Own Irish Cream Liqueur | The Hungry Mouse. Found on Edible Crafts.
Tasty crops for a gin garden? | Ask Metafilter. Now, I could get into this sort of edible gardening.
Margarita etiquette | Ask Metafilter. Is there an accepted way to get to enjoy the salt?
Peach White-Wine Sangria Recipe at Epicurious.com. I’m going to have to find a reason to make this sangria sometime soon.
· comments  · 06-25-2009 · categories:drink · links ·