DOWN WITH THE PURIST who says whiskey should be served neat with just a touch of water! Why deny a bartender the opportunity to make a great cocktail? Especially in a city with bar talent as robust as Portland's. A handful of local mixologists were kind enough to share their recipes with Mercury readers to prove that sometimes the best way to drink whiskey is shaken or stirred.
Daniel Stern of the lovely Urban Farmer offers this cocktail using Jim Beam Rye. The effect is a light libation that Stern says "plays off baking spices without being dessert-ish." Plus, it requires a serum. And how could that not be a good thing?
2 ounces Jim Beam Rye
1/2 ounce Pimm's
3/4 ounce cinnamon serum
For the cinnamon serum
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 cinnamon sticks
Simmer sugar, water, and cinnamon for 20 minutes. Cool and strain.
Combine serum, Pimm's, and rye in shaker. Add ice. Stir gently. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Few would think to put a well-regarded single malt Scotch into a cocktail. But not Jacob Grier of Carlyle Restaurant, who feels the result is worth the transgression. His Curse of Scotland is a riff on the classic Last Word.
Curse of Scotland
3/4 ounce Ardbeg 10
3/4 ounce Drambuie
3/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
3/4 ounce lemon juice
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake, strain, and serve up in a martini glass.
Stringer's Bell adds Caribbean flavors to the mix while keeping bourbon in the driver's seat. It's the talented Kelley Swenson's (Ten 01) take on two classic drinks, the Manhattan and the Floridita. Both are far from retiring.
2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lime twist
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Stir and serve up in a cocktail glass with a lime twist.
Alyssa Gregg, behind the bar at the brand-new Spints Alehouse, offers this recipe for her favorite Spints' cocktail. A little chili fire and a touch of crème de cacao create a cold weather cocktail worth taking the time for.
2 ounces Buffalo Trace
1/2 ounce crème de cacao
1/2 ounce Maraska maraschino liqueur
dash Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Stir, strain, and serve up in a cocktail glass.
Working at whiskey bar Branch, you can bet Andrew Finkelman knows his way around a bottle of whiskey. Here, he chooses the House Spirits straight whiskey to create a drink that's "a little earthy, with some orange and honey, and a little black pepper at the end."
2 ounces House Spirits whiskey
1/4 ounce Averna
1/4 ounce simple syrup
dash Angostura bitters
1 orange twist
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Stir and serve up in a cocktail glass with an orange twist.
Lud Dulka of Meriwether's Restaurant usually mixes his cocktail with Makers Mark, but decided to up the ante with Woodford Reserve for the Mercury's classier readers. It's like a kiss with cherry lips.
The Cherry Mountain
1 3/4 ounces Woodford Reserve
1/4 ounce Cherry Heering
2 dashes Fee Brothers original bitters
garnish with 3 amarena cherries
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Stir and serve up in a chilled martini glass.
Elizabeth Markham pulls double duty at two of Portland's most loved new restaurants, Beaker and Flask and Laurelhurst Market. Her Bird Bath combines the delicate flavors of wine with a little spice from rye whiskey, which'll have you singing like a sparrow in no time.
The Bird Bath
2 ounces chilled pinot gris
1 1/2 ounce rye whiskey
3/4 ounce Cynar
3/4 ounce agave nectar-sweetened ginger juice
lemon peel oil
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Add ice. Stir for a relatively short amount of time—20 seconds max (so as to not lose the delicacy of the wine). Strain into a chilled cup. Top with a squeeze of lemon peel oil.
[A special thank you to Lance Mayhew for assistance in rounding up these fantastic recipes.—Eds.]