AS PORTLANDERS progress further into the depths of summer, we begin to develop a faraway blissed-out look. It's the product of sun, exposed skin, warm weather... and, all right, a few drinks.
Summer cocktails speak to the increasing bounty in our gardens, the scent of blossoms in the air, and the tropical breezes we can only imagine here in our Northwest climes.
Recently, we asked a few killer-cocktail establishments what they were pouring this summer. They gave us a few great recipes you can make at home and sip in your favorite patch of sun.
While the lovely Bar Avignon (2138 SE Division) may be best known as a wine bar with a fine menu packed with tasty plates, they are also quite handy with a cocktail shaker. Consider the Reservoir No. 5, named when a friend of the owners took a sip and was transported to a time when, as a child, she swam in the Mt. Tabor reservoir.
Reservoir swimming is now, unfortunately, strictly forbidden. Still, this cocktail is as refreshing and woodsy as a clandestine midnight dip, without the getting arrested part. That is, unless you drink too many.
Reservoir No. 5
1 1/2 ounces vodka 1/4 ounce Clear Creek pear brandy 1/2 ounce lemon juice 1/2 ounce rosemary simple syrup (see recipe below) 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a thin pear slice. Do not overdo it with the pear brandy; a little bit goes a long way.
Rosemary Simple Syrup
Gently heat equal parts water and suger until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add a fresh sprig of rosemary approximately four inches long. Let cool. Remove rosemary once syrup has cooled completely.
While the tradition of summer drinking is strong, there have been times when, like a bad sunburn after a gorgeous day, things have gone awry. Such is the case with the modern blended abomination that's taken the name of "daiquiri."
Luckily we have a careful cocktail historian like Daniel Shoemaker of the Teardrop Lounge (1015 NW Everett) to remind us of the glory it once was. Turns out you don't need a blender to make the king of the tropical summer libations.
2 ounces El Dorado 15-year rum (or your rum of choice)
1 ounce fresh lime juice 1/2 ounce rich demerara syrup (see accompanying recipe)
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the zest of one whole lime.
Pour one part simmering distilled water over two parts demerara sugar. Stir at least five minutes until sugar is completely incorporated.
While some classics aren't specifically designed for warm-weather sipping, they do lend themselves quite nicely to soothing the spirit on a hot day.
The Brown Derby cocktail was created at the chapeau-shaped restaurant in Los Angeles that once bore the same name. The restaurant has long since been demolished, and most of the glamorous Tinseltown clientele have passed on, but the cocktail lingers. At Branch Whiskey Bar (2926 NE Alberta), customers have been clamoring for it.
The Brown Derby
2 ounces Maker's Mark bourbon 1/2 ounce pure maple syrup 1/2 ounce fresh grapefruit juice dash of orange bitters dash of fresh lime juice Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange twist.
After partaking of the Gilt Club's (306 NW Broadway) popular cocktail Tracy's First Love, you may think it's meant to recall memories of that first shy kiss in a garden lit by a summertime moon.
But the "printable" story of its name comes from an enthusiastic server who proclaimed she finally knew what love was after taking one sip. What's the unprintable story? Hell, we're dying to know just as much as you are. Does it include a garden lit by a summertime moon? We sure hope so.
Tracy's First Love
2 1/2 ounces cucumber-infused vodka (see recipe below)
1 1/2 ounce lightly sweetened lime juice
2 cucumber slices
2 large basil leaves
Muddle basil leaves and cucumber in a cocktail shaker. Add liquid ingredients. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a whole basil leaf "spanked" once between your palms to release the volatile oils, and a thin slice of cucumber.
Add to your favorite "plain" vodka several peeled and sliced English cucumbers. Let sit for at least one week or more for flavor to develop.