In Portland’s old days — a less civilized time when the city teemed with pirates, smugglers and outlaws — careless revelers who consumed too many libations might have been “shanghaied,” or kidnapped, and whisked away to work on the sea.
Today, there’s a safer way to enjoy some fine cocktails: a trip through Portland’s Distillery Row. The epicenter of the emerging craft distillery movement, this former warehouse district is home to a slew of independent, small-batch spirit makers who have put Portland on the map of liquor connoisseurs, and great bottles on the shelf of bartenders worldwide.
House Spirits, which mixes juniper, cardamom, orange peel and other botanicals into its Aviation Gin, pours everything from a Scandinavian aquavit to Stumptown Coffee liqueur in its tasting room. Eastside Distilling has been turning heads with bottles like the spicy, bold, award-winning Burnside Bourbon. And over at New Deal Distillery, original recipes like their spicy Hot Monkey Vodka, flavored with five chili peppers and amazing mixed with pineapple juice, and Ginger Liqueur will have you rethinking your favorite cocktails.
When not making seasonal, fruit-based liqueurs in their urban distillery, Stone Barn Brandyworks makes whiskey and dreams up some incredible recipes, like the October Dapple Apple, which features their Stone Barn Apple Brandy. Meanwhile, the rice-based spirits of Vinn Distillery stand on their own, like their Mijiu Fire and Mijiu Ice, two rice wines with delicious but contrasting flavors.
Savor the fruity flavors of fresh berries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley with a bottle of Wild Roots Vodka. These all-natural infused spirits are available in flavors such as red raspberry, Oregon Marionberry and Washington apple cinnamon. Distillery Row’s newest member, Thomas & Sons Distillery distills Townshend’s Tea Company, blends into tea liqueurs and other botanical spirits.
Proof Inc. is an excellent way to make sure you don’t miss out on any of Portland’s amazing bottles. Not only do pass holders benefit from complimentary tastings and tours at 11 local distilleries, they also receive cocktail recipes for each location, and a $5 gift card good at any participating tasting room. Cheers to that!