As the Pacific Northwest thaws out from an unexpected late winter, the rain and daffodils sprouting signify that spring is around the corner. So what are some good drinks for imbibing during this transition from winter ice to spring rains?
Gin is commonly associated with warmer weather — think G&Ts — but the juniper aromas of this distilled spirit make for a cocktail that is, at once, floral and robust enough for the shoulder season. Consider the Hotel Sorrento’s Le Grand Plum, a lovely concoction of Seattle-made Copperworks Plum Gin, Grand Marnier and lemon, a drink that might change one’s mind about drinking gin pre-spring. Another option is a Negroni made with Aria Portland Dry Gin from, clearly, Portland, Oregon. The cocktail’s dark, rich flavors from the vermouth and Campari pair well with roasted Oregon hazelnuts and other savory snacks.
Pear Cider and Pear Brandy
A mulled apple cider can help a person warm up after a rainy day. But that’s a fall thing. With spring approaching, consider switching from apples to pears. Add mulling spices to Restoration Pear Cider, a crisp refreshing cider made by Eugene, Oregon–based Wildcraft from wildly sourced invasive pears. For another option, a hot toddy made with Clear Creek Distillery Pear Brandy captures the spirit of the Pacific Northwest with twenty pounds of pears in each 750-milliliter bottle. Both drinks pair amazingly well with sweet, nutty and herbaceous cheeses such as Glendale Shepherd’s Island Brebis, a dense and aromatic Tomme style of cheese made in Clinton, Washington.
For those looking for a unique late-winter wine that pairs well with robust foods, Colter’s Creek 2019 Sangiovese is a delightful addition to any wine cellar. Hand harvested in Julietta, Idaho, in the Lewis and Clark AVA, the grapes are aged 16 months in neutral French oak barrels and puncheons. This wine’s bright acidity and notes of cherry pie and Irish tea pair well with Italian foods — especially a mushroom risotto or pasta with tomato-based sauces.
Porter and Chowder
What’s more iconically Pacific Northwest than Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter from Bend, Oregon, and Ivar’s clam chowder from Seattle? Not much — unless you count beautiful landscapes cloaked in dank, gray springtime clouds. Now, it all comes together aboard the Amtrak Cascades route between Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia. And once disembarked, remember that one good Oregon porter deserves another —like Arch Rock Brewing Porter, made in Gold Beach, or Crux Fermentation Project’s PCT Porter, another Bend-based beauty.
Westward American Single Malt Whiskey – Cask Strength served neat represents the nearly perfect after-dinner whiskey any time of year. Aged in new American oak, this 125 proof whiskey amplifies the richness of Westward’s locally malted barley and the beer created in-house in Portland, Oregon. Adding a drop or two of water will bring out even more of the flavor profiles. Savor this single malt with a piece of dark chocolate for a mouthful of Pacific Northwest paradise.