Co-Founders Cy Cain and Casey Richwine began Straightaway Cocktails as two guys who loved making cocktails at home for their friends. Oh, how that has changed. In the last four years, the batch cocktails they made for a short list of pals for Christmas expanded into a thriving business with various product lines, a Portland, Oregon, tasting room, and a retail shop that ships throughout the United States.
Straightaway’s origin story starts with “The Gentleman’s Companion,” a 1939 cocktail guide written by Charles H. Baker, Jr. who fled the United States during Prohibition seeking more cocktail-friendly climes around the globe. Baker spent some time at the ritzy Manila Hotel in the Philippines where he discovered a cocktail called the Lintik, which means “lightning” in the local dialect, Tagalog. Inspired by this book, Cane and Richwine made batches of this citrus-forward gin punch for friends at a beach gathering. The positive response told them they were on to something.
Soon, they started crafting and bottling other premixed cocktails – starting with the Lintik, of course. Other initial Straightaway offerings included premixed classics like the Negroni, cosmopolitan, margarita and an old fashioned. These classic cocktails are made with sharp focus on sourcing the best and most local ingredients to create high quality libations with a Pacific Northwest edge.
For instance, Straightaway’s old fashioned is decidedly Oregon-forward, with housemade bitters made with locally sourced filberts and Douglas Fir needles. The margarita comes laced with Jacobsen sea salt and a kick of Straightaway’s own mango habanero syrup. The Swizzle blends Jamaican rum with fresh passionfruit and pineapple juice as well as housemade falernum – a Caribbean liqueur traditionally made with ginger, lime, almond flavors with hints of cloves and allspice. Straightaway adds cinnamon leaf extract, grains of paradise and coriander to the falernum recipe, tailoring the proportions to the rums and other ingredients they use in their Swizzle.
As Straightway grew, the company moved production from their compact space in the back of the tasting room to a large former brewery in Northeast Portland. As the brand took off, they began making more of their own components and adding new beverage lines. Customers and local mixologists requested liqueurs to make drinks at their homes and businesses, so the ACCOMPANi brand of vermouth, amaros and liqueurs was added. Their ACCOMPANi Mari Gold, an aperitivo with Seville orange peel, orange blossom, and gentian root recently won Best in Show for the liqueur category at the San Francisco World Spirits competition.
In addition to creating their own high quality products, Straightaway often sources ingredients from other Portland businesses. A recently released coffee liqueur is made with Stumptown cold brew, and a line of white tea and black tea vodka sodas are made with tea from Smith Teamaker.
The tasting room is located a short ride or walk from downtown Portland hotels, drawing cocktail-curious tourists. Jen McPoland, director of guest experience at Straightaway, estimates that 60% of tasting room customers come from out of state. However, with the addition of full-size cocktails plus hot dogs and sausages from Dapper Dogs – with suggested cocktail pairings – the locals are discovering this hotspot, too.
Straightaway Tasting Room
901 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
Photos and video courtesy of Straightaway Cocktails
Want to learn more about Straightaway and their roots? Check out their Maker Video!