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3 Simple Summer Cocktails

We put up with the rain all year in Portland, but it is well worth it for the spectacular summers filled with blooming flowers, bountiful gardens, back-yard barbecues, and of course- plenty of drinking! While grabbing a twelve pack of microbrew beers is a great route for outdoor entertaining, it's great to be able to offer your guests a boozier option that showcase summer flavors. KATU News, AM Northwest was kind enough to have me on their show to mix up some drinks. You can watch the full video clip at the bottom of the post. 


Lavender Lemonade:

1.5 oz Vodka (Crater Lake) or Gin (Corsair)

1 oz. Lavender Simple Syrup* 

1-1.5 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Cucumber slice (optional)

Mint Sprig (optional)

Soda Water

Add first four ingredients to old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Top with soda water. Gently stir. Garnish with lavender sprig. 

Lavender Simple Syrup: Add 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water. Add zest of 1 lemon. Gently heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add 1 cup lavender blossoms. Let steep overnight, and strain into food-safe glass jar for storage.



2 oz Cachaca (Novo Fogo) 

1/2 lime 

1.25 tbsp sugar

Remove the white pith from the lime and discard it. Cut the remaining lime in slices; toss them into the glass. Muddle them with sugar in the glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add cachaça and pour everything into a shaker. Give it a go; pour everything (including the ice) back into the same glass.


Cucumber Cooler:

1 1/2 oz. Gin (Corsair) or Vodka (Crater Lake

3/4 oz St. Germain

3/4 oz lime or lemon juice

2 slices cucumber

2 sprigs mint

soda water

Add first three ingredients and 1 sprig of mint and 1 cucumber slice to cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and double-strain into old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with cucumber slice and mint sprig. Top with soda water if desired.

(If you're reading this on a mobile device you can watch the video here.)

Jordaan- 1.75 oz gin, .75 oz lemon juice, .25 oz creme de violette, cucumber


1.75 oz. gin (New Amsterdam)
.75 oz. Lemon juice
.25 oz. Creme de Violette (Rothman and Winter)
3 slices cucumber

Muddle cucumber in tumbler. Add ingredients and ice. Shake. Double strain.

This cocktail is named after the Jordaan district in Amsterdam, derived from the French word jardin, meaning garden. The muddled cucumber and the creme de violette compliment each other quite nicely. The lemon juice provides the necessary acidic bite to let the floral components of the violette to cut through and pop out amongst the botanicals of the New Amsterdam, as they are prevalent in this juniper-light gin.

#RPM @AaltoLounge- @HouseSpirits Distillery

Each week this summer for six weeks, House Spirits Distillery will visit a different bar in Portland, OR to make cocktails highlighting their spirits as well as the food of the hosting venue. My folks were in town for the week and we thought this would be an excellent introduction to experience the quality of the craft distilling revolution taking place in Portland (see Distillery Row). House Spirits primary portfolio consists of Aviation Gin, Medoyeff Vodka, and Krogstad Aquavit. Of particular interest to PDX natives (and visitors) are the limited release, small batch, seasonal spirits offered in individually numbered 375 ml bottles. Their offerings have included a white dog whiskey, Palinka, and House Spirits Rum. There is also an exclusive selection of spirits destined for the Ace hotel in the near future (full list here)

We tried three of the five cocktails offered at the Aalto at last weeks RPM.
Pegu Club:

2 oz. Gin (Aviation)
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
3/4 oz lime juice
Dash bitters (angostura)
This was a great cover of an oft forgotten classic, the Pegu Club. This simple, yet complex cocktail was an excellent opportunity to showcase their Aviation Gin.



Imperial Gin Daisy:

1 1/2 oz. gin (Aviation)
3/4 oz. Grand Marnier
1/2 oz. lemon juice
Topped with brut champagne

My mom found this a bit sweet, though her preferences generally lie towards the less sweet. However, it seemed the general consensus that this was a bit sweet. The Grand Marnier or the champagne could have caused this, but it may just be a matter of preference.


Pressgurka Smash:

1 3/4 oz. Krogstad Aquavit
1/2 lemon quartered
3 slices cucumber
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Muddle cucumber and lemon quarters. Shake with ice. Pour all ingredients over ice. Garnish with lemon wedge and cucumber slice.

This was the clear winner of the three. The aquavit and the cucumber were an unexpectedly delicious combination. I am not a aquavit lover, though it's milder anise flavor is quite different than straight liquorice, making it easier for me to palette. This combination gave me a new appreciation for the spirit, and will lead to more experimentation with the paring of cucumber and Aquavit (Pimm's Cup Addition?).

We are looking forward to attending the RPM event tonight at EaT Oyster Bar 3808 N Williams Ave Portland, OR. If you plan on attending, drop me a line @craftcocktails on twitter. Hope to see you there. For a list of cocktails offered at tonights tasting, look here.

Cucumber Cooler- 1 3/4 oz @HendricksGin, 3/4 oz @StGermainDrinks, 3/4 oz lime juice, cucumber, mint, soda water, up

Cucumber Cooler:

1 1/2 oz. Gin (Hendricks)
3/4 oz St. Germain
3/4 oz lime juice
2 slices cucumber
2 sprigs mint
soda water

DrinkupNY.com is currently sold out of Hendricks, prompting a trip to the local liquor store to find the lovely OLCC had dropped the price to $30 for the next couple months! Though today has brought cooler weather and gray skies to the Portland metro, yesterday was still toasty enough for a summer refresher, this one comes straight from the Curiositorium . A tasty and simple cocktail with delightful floral notes and cucumber coolness that goes down dangerously well.

Place all liquids (except soda water) in shaker with ice with 1 slice cucumber and leaves from one small sprig of mint. Shake, double-strain into tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with other cucumber slice and mint sprig. Top with soda water (if desired)

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