Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock and Julia Child all famously loved their martinis, carving out a nostalgic place in history for this iconic cocktail. Martinis bring to mind bygone days of “three martini lunches,” a 1950s-sort-of elegance and those quote-worthy scenes from classic James Bond movies. As my drink of choice, I definitely have my preferences. I know that “pure spirit cocktails” are technically supposed to be stirred but I like my martinis shaken — icy cold, strained into a well-chilled glass and garnished with a blue cheese-stuffed olive skewer. In the end, martinis are a personal thing: dry, wet, vodka, gin, olive or twist, it’s up to you.
Named for the beautiful flower that is the official emblem of Florence, Italian brothers Andrea and Mario Loreto of Elixir Craft Spirits in Eugene, Oregon, founded the recipe for their Iris Liqueur on traditional Italian sweet spirits, with pure Northwest ingredients. Using snowmelt waters that filter through 1,000-meter thick basaltic volcanic rock off the Oregon High Cascades, the spirit is also based on organic grain neutral spirits. Despite what you might think, the iris root is what gives this liqueur its floral aromatics, not the flower. A noticeable perfume sits neatly on the palate and is balanced by sweetness and a slight bitter botanical note.
This cocktail is inspired by the classic Vesper. The Iris Liqueur replaces the traditional Lillet Blanc with a wonderful complexity and plays perfectly with the gin from Sea Bishop Spirits in Black Diamond, Washington, one of the newest distilleries to our scene.
Eye of the Iris
Makes 1 cocktail
1 ½ ounces Sea Bishop Spirits Gin
1 ounce vodka
½ ounce Elixir Iris Liqueur
Garnish: lemon peel
Fill a cocktail coupe with ice and set aside to chill. Measure the gin, vodka and Iris Liqueur into a mixing glass. Fill with ice, cap and shake. Discard ice from chilling glass and strain in drink. Express lemon peel over cocktail and garnish.