White Russians and The Big Lebowski0

Coffee liqueurs are the rage right now, especially in Portland, a city which loves its spirits and its coffee equally. But there’s always room for one more. Galliano Ristretto has been around for a while but has only recently made its way into Oregon, joining ranks with a number of locally-produced coffee liqueurs. To commemorate this and to introduce the spirit to Portland bartenders and enthusiasts, Galliano brand ambassador extraordinaire Jacob Grier came up with the perfect event: Ristretto with The Dude: White Russians and The Big Lebowski. Brilliant!

The event featured complimentary White Russians using Galliano Ristretto, free snacks from the host bar, and a Big Lebowski screening on one of the big TVs in the bar’s private event space. The turnout was small but enthusiastic, with everyone looking forward to the drinks and movie. Speaking for myself, this was the first White Russian I’ve had in well over a decade and I’d guess the same is true for many other people there. While I do love The Big Lebowski and occasionally joke about drinking these while watching my own copy of the movie, this was my first time actually pairing the two.

White Russians lined up on the bar

We drew the line at one, however. The heavy cream Jacob used was a little much so we opted for Black Russians for our second round. Just for something slightly lighter.

Black Russians — White Russians without the cream

So while I don’t normally drink these, I’m always eager to try a new spirit and I was looking forward to trying the Ristretto. Portland has been producing some great coffee liqueurs lately and it’s given me a new interest in the category, now that there’s something other than the sickly-sweet Kahlua on the market.

Sipped on its own, the Ristretto has the sweetness and syrupy feel of Kahlua but not the artificial, sort of chemically taste. It actually tastes like coffee, rather than some sort of coffee-like substance. Some of our local coffee liqueurs are lighter, presenting a clean, fresh coffee flavor without the syrupy feel, but it’s nice to see a Kahlua alternative available on the wider market. People planning their own Lebowski parties outside the Portland area would do well to pick up this for their bar.

The event was held at Spirit of 77, a sports-themed bar opened by the people behind Clyde Common. I love Clyde Common but I hate sports bars, so this was my first time here. Note that I initially described the bar as “sports-themed”; that description feels more accurate than “sports bar”. There are huge TVs and sport references, but none of the tacky banners and the like that adorn other such places. Further, Spirit of 77 is actually very well designed; a lot more thought has gone into this space than any other sports bar I’ve seen. This isn’t the type of place I’d frequent but if you’re into sports you should definitely check it out.

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by Kenn in Events on

Beaker & Flask’s 2nd Anniversary Party0

This past weekend was the second birthday of one of Portland’s best cocktail bars, Beaker & Flask. To celebrate, they threw open their doors on Sunday, a day they’re normally closed, and had a big birthday bash. Opening at 4:00pm, this event featured a special best of cocktail menu with some old favorites from their ever-changing drink selection from over the past two years, free hors d’oeuvres, and some great guest bartenders.

We arrived around 7:30 and found the place absolutely packed. There were actually a couple empty tables but the bar was stacked three deep and even walking from one end of the restaurant to the other proved challenging. We grabbed seats at a table at first but quickly realized that the bar was the place to be, both for socializing and more easily getting drink orders in.

We had high expectations for the menu and weren’t disappointed. The special “greatest hits” menu consisted of 11 drinks, priced at only $7 each, with the selection including such classic Beaker & Flask fare as the Zanahorita, which uses fresh carrot juice, the Night & Fog, and all kinds of other great stuff.

Mandolin Rain, Night & Fog

We started with a Mandolin Rain (white rum, Cocchi Americano, Averna, Fernet) and a Night & Fog (Cynar, sherry, ginger beer, bitters), which you can see pictured above. Our second round included a Zanahorita (reposado tequila, lime, carrot juice, cilantro, cumin) and the Rum Club Old Fashioned, a simple rum Old Fashioned using both English Harbor 5 year aged rum and Smith & Cross Jamaican rum, along with a bit of Pelinkovak, demerara syrup, and bitters. Over the past year or so I’ve really gotten into making Old Fashioneds with rum and this was a great example of what you can do with it. I didn’t notice what aged rum was used in this; anyone know? (Thanks Brandon!)

Rum Club Old Fashioned

I’ll admit to having mixed feelings about Beaker & Flask when they first opened their doors two years ago (mostly having to do with ambiance; the cocktails were always fantastic) but during their first year they quickly become one of my favorite Portland cocktail bars and one of the places I always take out-of-town visitors. Here’s to many more years to come.

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by Kenn in Events on

Edith Bunker1

Cocktailia reader Stew E. sent in an original recipe to the Cocktailia test kitchen, the Edith Bunker. I mixed one up to spec and made a variant of my own. Here are both of them, so you can take your pick.

Edith Bunker (original)

  • 1 1/2 ounces 100 proof rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 1/2 ounce maraschino
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Strain over ice into a rocks glass.

While this version makes a light refreshing drink, my preference is for more spirit-forward cocktails. The Edith Bunker has good bones though so I played around with the proportions a bit and came up with my own variant, which I’m calling The Dingbat. This second version preserves the flavors of the original while allowing the whiskey to carry the drink. I used Rittenhouse rye in both versions.

The Dingbat (Cocktailia variant)

  • 1 1/2 ounces 100 proof rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 1/4 ounce maraschino
  • 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Strain over ice into a rocks glass.

Thanks again to Stew E. for the recipe. You can see what Stew’s mixing up on his Facebook page, Mixology Meet: The Daily Cocktail(s).

Giveaway! His and Hers decanter set from Love & Victory20

While we do love a cocktail, sometimes a little ice and a great whiskey is all you need. The winner of this first-ever Cocktailia giveaway will receive an Ours decanter and your choice of His/Hers, Hers/Hers, or His/His glasses. Wouldn’t this make a fantastic wedding present? Or a great addition to your own bar?

This set was designed by Meg Moorehouse who runs Love & Victory, a Brooklyn-based design company. In addition to being an awesome person, she makes some really great stuff. Check out her web site for more.

But before you do, leave a comment here with what you’ll fill this with if you win. We’ll select a random commenter on Monday, June 20 and ship that lucky person one of these sets with two glasses of their choice. Due to shipping costs we’re only shipping to US addresses but non-US readers can feel free to enter if you have a friend in the states we can ship to.

Find more of Meg’s creations at Love & Victory and leave your comment below!

Update: We have a winner!

I used the random number generator at random.org and it selected David Cole, also in Brooklyn, as the winner of the decanter set. He’ll soon be filling it up with premixed Blood & Sand (just don’t let it sit too long with that fresh orange juice).

Thanks for participating, everyone!

by Kenn in Articles on

World Domination Summit Cocktail Tour2

The weekend of June 4–5, Portland was home to the first annual World Domination Summit, an unconvention focused on independent business, unconventional travel, and “how to live a remarkable life in a conventional world”. Gathering together 500 people from around the world for three days of events, the weekend was a huge success.

The WDS team recruited volunteers to lead informal city tours after the sessions on Saturday in order to show our out-of-town visitors the best of what Portland has to offer. I was approached by one of the WDS organizers about leading a loose band of adventurers around to some of downtown Portland’s better cocktail bars and jumped at the chance.

Based on the itinerary we laid out prior to the weekend, we started the evening at 7:00pm at Teardrop Lounge where most of us had a couple rounds and a bite to eat. Second up was Gilt Club at 9:00, and we wrapped up the evening at Clyde Common at 10:30 where we stayed until well after midnight. The tour was very loosely organized, with just a timeline holding us together. While we had reservations at the three bars, our group was actually much bigger than the reservation size and we pretty much took over every place we went, with groups of varying numbers filling out the bars and surrounding tables.

The other WDS tours included a craft store tour and one of some of Portland’s many microbreweries and brewpubs. Some of this last group coincidentally converged upon Clyde Common at the same time as our group. It was nice being able to mingle with people from the other group but I don’t think the Clyde Common staff was prepared for the onslaught (sorry about that, guys).


Leading 30+ people around some of the city’s top cocktail bars, drinking all the way, presented some interesting logistical challenges but I’m happy to report the tour went extremely smoothly with no issues whatsoever. We got a number of compliments the following day and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Thanks to Chris Guillebeau and Armosa Studios for the use of these photos.

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by Kenn in Events on

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