Unofficially Official

I know that the only real judge is our Lord in Heaven, but I have to say that if you want me to judge something... I'm there. Cocktail contests, beauty pageants, cat shows, worlds best mustache competitions. I don't care what it is. Bring it on.

This last Wednesday at Bluehour, I helped pick Oregon's Unofficial Official Cocktail as part of the judging panel for Travel Oregon's "Create the Oregon Bounty Cocktail Contest." The shin-dig was a hoot. I was on the panel with Tom Bean, lead bartender from Carafe, the Oregonians bearded beer columnist, John Foyston, Michelle Godfrey, and a lovely young woman who's name I have forgotten, both from Travel Oregon, Kelly Swenson, lead bartender of Ten 01, and a lady from Kink FM (?) I didn't really meet. An impressive panel, indeed.

I enjoyed drinking with these folks. It wasn't my normal boozing crowd, but, fuck it. It's good to have acquaintances outside of your normal sphere of influence—which, for me, reaches to the end of the rail at my favorite dive bar, and encompasses a one-foot area around my desk.

I digress. As the drinks were lined up for us last Wednesday, you could see the boozy lust in our eyes. We were ready to get this done, even if we did feel slight pressure due to our immense responsibility. Personally, I drink best when I'm under pressure.

After seven rounds, and an ever increasing desire to pontificate to the smallish crowd on subjects of micro-distilling and partying, we finally chose a winner.

Get the winning recipe and an extra special bonus cocktail after the jump

Without further ado, here 'tis:

Hike, Fish & Go Camping Punch
Eastern Oregon
Cheryl Meloy, Portland

Serves 4
5 oz Pendleton Whisky
4 oz (1/3 of 12 oz can) frozen lemonade
4 oz (1/3 of 12 oz can) frozen limeade
4 oz huckleberry syrup
2 bottles Terminal Gravity IPA
Mint sprigs for garnish

Mix together the first four ingredients in large pitcher. Slowly stir in both bottles of beer. Pour punch into a tall, ice-filled glass. Top with mint sprig and serve. To make huckleberry syrup: Heat to a slow boil 2 cups berries (fresh or frozen; you can substitute blueberries for huckleberries) with 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water. Slow boil for 20 -30 minutes, cool slightly and strain mixture through fine mesh sieve. Work the mash to get all the fluid through the sieve before discarding the skins. You may also cool syrup and store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Here's how Cheryl describes it:

"This is an easy, fun loving punch. With a warm whisky, flavorful micro brew, and a handful of wild berries, it's a real Eastern Oregon concoction. A new twist on the youthful Hop, Skip & Go Naked and classic Whisky sour, this recipe crosses the generational gap and quenches the thirst of all revelers seeking a taste of Eastern Oregon's high country."

I could not have said it better myself. The addition of Terminal Gravity IPA is absolute genius! That settles the whole "beer before liquor" issue, right quick. I like that this drink is a punch. It's communal: when you have a party, you don't have to make everyone their own goddamn cocktail, and everyone shares a common experience. Ta-da!

I do cringe a bit at the name, but the Hike Fish & Go Camping is actually an incredible drink. It has nice, deep berry sweetness, with a slight bitter evanescence from the IPA. Fueling your party with this stuff could really make something happen. And my guess is that no-one would remember any of it the next morning. I encourage you to try it out.

One more cocktail recipe before we go. This is a suggestion from Amy Wood, who reminds me that the official fruit of Oregon Autumn is the pear. So to tie it all together, here's a pear cocktail recipe from fellow cocktail judge, Kelly Swenson:

Pear Dauphine'

3/4 oz pear liqueur, such as Clear Creek Pear Brandy or Aqua Perfecta Pear Eau de Vie
3/4 oz elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain or Belvoir
3/4 oz gin
1/2 oz purée of fresh USA Bartlett or Green Anjou Pear
1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Pour ingredients in shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail
glass of your choosing. Garnish with an edible flower or paper-thin slice of pear on the edge of the glass.

Dig it, babies, and don't forget to send me your cocktail recipes! For me, I think this weekend will find me mixing my whiskey with the first rains of autumn. I'm earthy that way.