Thursday, May 27, 2010


So getting settled in a new city is never easy, but as far as my time here is concerned it has been as agreeable as I could hope for. Such a great cocktail scene here, the tiniest dive bars are firing Corpse Revivers from their wells, and the people pouring them are fantastic.

Recently I've had the pleasure of joining the lovely Ms. Bartlett for a sampling of Teardrop's new menu overhaul, vodka recipe experimentation/pig explosion at Gilt, a Amaro & s'mores at Laurelhurst Market, and bumped into some new friends while enjoying a Chauncey cocktail at Beaker and Flask. I still find it hilarious sometimes how small of a town it seems here. Frequently as I'm introduced to someone their reply is "You're from Chicago, right?", and I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with my accent. The major difference I've seen here so far is that cocktillians take their craft super seriously; not to say that the barmen of the midwest don't have a similar zeal, but technique is more important here than reputation. Looking forward to learning all I can from some crazy talented people here. Taking this time to dust off some bad habits, working on my 'hard shake' stance, and watching 'The Last Dragon' for extra focus...Sho-nuff.

Irving Street is coming together these days, starting to flesh out my first northwest cocktail list. From my limited explorations and my short time in the scene here I feel that there is a niche left unfulfilled in the local beverage market. While the cocktails are certainly craft there seems to be a lacking culinary edge around town. After having the good fortune of working with Mr. Pikus (formerly of Alinea) at Perennial and listening to him geek out about molecular gastronomy I think there may be an opportunity to bring some of that ideology to Portland. Might be a slow build but I think by the end of summer we could be doing some pretty rad, simple, molecular cocktails at Irving. First thing's first though, focusing on balanced drinks that can be executed efficiently for the summer business volume. This weekend I'll be heading to the big farmer's market and Monday I'll be spending the holiday working on tinctures, syrups, potables, and perhaps some alginates. Fortunately the Pearl clientele is a lot like the Lincoln Park & Gold Coasters I'm familiar with...I'm sure we can awaken the 'Dirty Bird' crowd to some interesting libations here as well...

Chauncey Cocktail

3/4 oz Copper Fox Rye whiskey
3/4 oz Martin Miller's Westbourn Gin
1/2 oz Carpano Antiqua
1/2 oz Germain Robin brandy
dash Regan's Orange bitters

stir and strain, no garnish required

Friday, May 7, 2010


Well after three long days blazing a trail across the plains and over the rockies I arrived in the promised land. While I'd looked forward to the experience of a cross country road trip since discovering Kerouac in my early teens, I don't have any desire to do it again. Not to say that there weren't moments of breathtaking scenery and some good times along the way, just a taxing journey.

I did have the good fortune of stopping in Templeton, Iowa, home of my favorite prohibition era rye whiskey. Thanks to Keith, Scott, Killmer, and the rest of the TR gang for being so accomodating. Can't forget what one corporate suit told Keith about his rye: "your story's worth more than your whiskey". Well the whiskey's worth every penny, and the story...priceless.

So upon arrival in this fantastic little town, I look forward to picking up where I left off in Chicago. You can find me at the brand spanking new 'Irving St. Kitchen' crafting libations, and I can't wait to work with the tremendous array of product on the back bar. So much Amaro and Fernet Branca it crossed my mind that Mr. Benjamin Schiller himself must have put the purchase order through to the OLCC. Gonna be a fun ride, the owners group and the management team are among the finest folks I've had the pleasure of working with. And with so many interesting craft distilleries and wineries in the area, we'll be sure to keep things interesting. The food and wine programs each deserve their own chronicalling, but for now I'll leave it to the public to comment on. With the luxury of a Saturday night off I think I may pick up some local pear butter at the farmer's market, smuggle in some Templeton, and have one of the guys at ISK fire up a cocktail I placed on my first Perennial drink list. My gut tells me that it will go nicely with the Slow Roasted Duck w/gingersnap-brown basmati and "pan drippings"....

Orchard Ridge

2 oz Templeton Rye whiskey
3/4 oz Domaine de Canton
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/3 oz simple syrup
2 heaping bar spoons of Pear Butter

build in shaker tin, shake and strain into bucket glass over large irregular ice block. add a slice of pear, ginger, or simple swath of lemon for a garnish if ya like.