The Holiday Food & Drink Spectacular!
The holiday season is a time of generosity. A good giver of gifts finds something that speaks to their relationship with the recipient in a delightful, fulfilling way. A great gift-giver finds something they can also enjoy, like tickets to a play they love, clothes they know they’ll inherit and look amazing in, or—best of all—liquor (and especially liquor from Oregon, so your family doesn’t resent you too much for moving away).
For each of the people you love—whether you love loving them or not—here’s the perfect bottle of Oregon spirit to stuff into their stocking:
Traits: Plugged into pop culture; gullible yet impressed by you no matter what; terrible friends.
Gift: Aviation Gin. By now a mainstay of Portland craft distilling, Aviation is still made locally by House Spirits even though the brand was sold to a New York company years ago. Your younger sibling probably knows it as the gin that Blake Lively’s husband bought this year, but they may be interested to know that it’s also a distinctly American-style dry gin, and one that lends itself to classic cocktails as well as more new-fangled, even savory sippers.
Traits: Inexplicably less successful than you; once convinced you that you were adopted and you’re still not sure if it was a lie; you still crave their approval more than anything.
Gift: Calisaya. Elixir Inc., makers of one of Oregon’s homegrown fernets, also makes Calisaya, an amaro-inspired bitter liqueur along the lines of—but not overtly aping—Campari. If the older sibling starts to scoff and reach for the Italian stuff, mix up a quick negroni (ideally with Freeland Gin and Ransom’s rich sweet vermouth) and finally toast each other on equal footing.
Traits: Sweet; endlessly supportive; for some reason only drinks Scotch whisky. (Is this just my mom?)
Gift: McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt. Clear Creek’s longtime Scotch-style whisky predates the now popular Oregon farm-to-bottle whiskey movement, but the upside is that McCarthy’s is made with properly Scottish peat-smoked malt. It’s not so peaty it’ll knock mom’s year-round novelty snowman socks off (again, is this just my mom?), but it’s enough to warm up a rusty nail, my mom’s favorite cocktail.
Traits: Stubbornly frugal; emotionally withholding; doctor told him to drink less.
Gift: Whiskey.* As dads age, they need to drink less. One way to trick your dad into drinking less is to buy him expensive or rare whiskey: If he thinks of every sip as a debit into his (amber) liquid assets, he’s likely to take his time drinking it. At almost $80, Ransom Spirits’ The Emerald 1865 might test dad’s thriftiness, and it comes with a nod to historical trivia your dad will love—the recipe comes from a mash bill recorded in 1865.
Traits: Demands respect from youths; fought the patriarchy before you were a twinkle within a twinkle in her eye.
Gift: Freeland Gin. One of the newer distilleries in town, Freeland hit the ground running with an all-Oregon, women-led operation in Northwest Portland. The gin is floral but not so floral that Grandma will confuse it for her perfume, though it comes in a bottle pretty enough to sit as comfortably on her vanity as in her “secret” liquor cabinet. Best of all? Freeland is named for the founder’s own grandmother. Get the tissues, and get Grandma’s jitterbugging shoes while you’re at it.
*If Dad only drinks authentic bourbon whiskey from Kentucky, Rose City Liquor on Sandy has a stash of Weller 107, from a single barrel selected by the staff of Overlook neighborhood whiskey bar the Old Gold, which is Oregonian enough to count. Just gotta ask for it by name.