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Cocktails at Kask in Portland, OR

El Diablo- Mark McMinn has week working on perfecting the Diablo cocktail since he first learned how to make it at Patterson House. His latest rendition at KASK calls for Pueblo Viejo Blanco tequila, Combier cassis liqueur, house-made ginger syrup, and a splash of soda.

El Diablo- Mark McMinn has week working on perfecting the Diablo cocktail since he first learned how to make it at Patterson House. His latest rendition at KASK calls for Pueblo Viejo Blanco tequila, Combier cassis liqueur, house-made ginger syrup, and a splash of soda.

This article was originally published in my column on Serious Eats:Drink-Portland. 

At KASK in Portland, the spirits in each drink are not unique for the sake of being unique, nor obscure merely for hipster-cred. The team at KASK is passionate about finding the best quality and creating simple (generally 5 ingredients or less), yet remarkably tasty cocktails that Bar Manager/Beverage Director Tommy "Tweed" Klus says are "approachable, with a hint of geekiness".

 

The Leather Canary- This original cocktail from Nathan Gerdes smooths the transition from cooler weather with bitter, bright and sweet flavors playing in harmony. The cocktail is comprised of Old Overholt Whiskey, Gran Classico, Combier Pamplemousse, Punt E Mes, and a grapefruit twist.

The Leather Canary- This original cocktail from Nathan Gerdes smooths the transition from cooler weather with bitter, bright and sweet flavors playing in harmony. The cocktail is comprised of Old Overholt Whiskey, Gran Classico, Combier Pamplemousse, Punt E Mes, and a grapefruit twist.

Lead Bartender Mark McMinn said his background working as a barista for 10 years led him to pay close attention to detail. "I like introducing people to new spirits; it's fun to watch their minds expand", said McMinn. He used to judge recipes by how he thought they might taste based on the ingredient list, but years of experience have taught him to taste everything before making a judgment call. "Knowing that anything can be made well is one of the most exciting parts of the job", said McMinn, "...but you need to know how everything—good or bad—tastes first."

Bootstrap Buck- Tommy Tweed created this cocktail for the opening menu at KASK. The blend of Cruzan Blackstrap rum, lime, demerara sugar syrup, Fentiman's ginger beer, and freshly grated nutmeg has been a favorite ever since.

Bootstrap Buck- Tommy Tweed created this cocktail for the opening menu at KASK. The blend of Cruzan Blackstrap rum, lime, demerara sugar syrup, Fentiman's ginger beer, and freshly grated nutmeg has been a favorite ever since.

The newest addition to the KASK team is Nathan Gerdes, who previously ran the bar program at H50 Bistro. Gerdes began his bartending journey by mixing up Screwdrivers and White Russians for his high school friends. An unrelenting inquisitiveness (and sweltering kitchen) drove Gerdes, a former pasta chef, out of the kitchen and into the bar to learn and hone his skills, and to do what he loves best—socializing and conversing with others.

 

Moscow Mule- What do these bartenders really want to drink in the summer time? A classic, refreshing Moscow Mule. At KASK, they use locally distilled Medoyeff vodka, lime, house made ginger syrup, and the spicy Fentiman's ginger beer.

Moscow Mule- What do these bartenders really want to drink in the summer time? A classic, refreshing Moscow Mule. At KASK, they use locally distilled Medoyeff vodka, lime, house made ginger syrup, and the spicy Fentiman's ginger beer.

The White Lady cocktail is a classic—a silky, luscious yet crisp cocktail made with Small's gin, lemon, Combier liqueur, and one egg white.

The White Lady cocktail is a classic—a silky, luscious yet crisp cocktail made with Small's gin, lemon, Combier liqueur, and one egg white.

Mark McMinn

Mark McMinn

Tommy Tweed

Tommy Tweed

Elder Donkey

Elder Donkey

For many drinkers, Tequila has earned a bad reputation from memories of bad Margaritas and one too many shots at the bar. Sparkle Donkey Tequila is hoping to make new memories for tequila drinkers that don't result in a massive hangover. The Elder Donkey cocktail shows the lighter side of tequila, mixed with the floral St. Germain, and tart pink grapefruit juice, making for a delightful light summer sipper. 

Elder Donkey

2 parts Sparkle Donkey Reposado

1 part St. Germain

Fill glass grapefruit juice.

Enjoy!

 

Yeyo Tequila and the Executive Sunrise

Executive Sunrise:

1.5 oz tequila (Yeyo)
4 oz orange juice (blood oranges)
2 tsp creme de cassis (Mathilde)

Almost fill collins glass with ice cubes. Add tequila and orange juice and stir well. Add cassis.

The number of new high quality tequilas currently available is simply amazing. One of the first new entrants to the field that we had the opportunity to experiment with was Yeyo Tequila imported from a 4th generation master distiller in Jalisco, (relatively) locally through Beaverton, OR. The styling and branding reminded us of something a young-executive would enjoy, hence the Executive Sunrise from Gary Regan's Bartenders Bible. The recipe calls for regular orange juice, but all we had on hand was blood oranges (moros) so a darker sunrise (in true Portland fashion) was in order. The blood oranges have a bit more tartness than traditional oranges that went very well with the slightly sweet and tangy Mathilde Creme de Cassis. The tequila is very mixable, with a very smooth sip and pleasant briny peppery finish. Yeyo tequila is also quite drinkable neat, with little burn (especially for a silver) and full agave flavor.


The Ringer- 1.5 oz Herradura Silver tequila, 1 oz. Cocchi Americano, .75 oz lemon juice, .25 oz cinnamon spiced agave syrup

The Ringer:

1.5 oz. Tequila (Herradura Silver)
1 oz. Cocchi Americano
.75 oz lemon juice
.25 oz cinnamon spiced agave simple syrup *(recipe below)
Lemon zest

Shake all ingredients over ice. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon zest.



While the bottles and branding may have changed (the topmost picture is the old bottle design), Herradura Silver remains a top choice for mixing when it comes to tequila cocktails. The Silver is aged 45 days, and results in a mild agave vegetal spirit, that is not overly grassy or oily. The slightly woody flavors imparted from the brief aging are heightened with the addition of the spiced raw agave syrup. The lemon juice provided contrast and assisted in pulling out smokier notes not first apparent. The Cocchi stretched an excellent canvas for the other ingredients, and contributed its own handful of botanicals . Dry vermouth can be substituted for the Cocchi for those not lucky enough to have access to it, though it adds some sweetness so you may have to adjust the spiced agave syrup accordingly (Recipe assumes 1:1 water:agave ratio). This cocktail is a good showcase for a solid Joven (Silver) tequila that demonstrates its mixability and accesibility.

*Cinnamon Spiced Agave Syrup

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup raw agave syrup

Warm mixture in microwave. Steep 1 broken ceylon stick for 2-5 minutes. Strain. Bottle. Store in fridge. Lasts 7-10 days.

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