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Ask A Bartender: What’s A Good Winter Drink?

Friday, February 13, 2015


The medicinal hot toddy

Two centuries ago this time of year, you wouldn’t have the proper ingredients to make a mojito in Portland. Now we do, but does that mean you should? As always, do what you feel like, especially in matters as trivial as choosing which cocktail to enjoy. However, you might find that you enjoy certain cocktails more during the colder months.

The consensus among regionally driven foodies is that we should cook within the limits of the season’s bounty. An apple tastes better in the fall, Chili tastes better in the winter and a tostada is best during the summer months. 

The same holds true for booze. This is a short list of drinks that are best enjoyed by a fireplace while hearing the rain tatter against the window. The common convention seems to be that whiskey is the winter spirit. Dark, sweet and rich, it is a good candidate, but not the only one. There is a way to winterize all spirits though. Here are a few suggestions. 

Dark & Stormy

Like the name implies, this rich, dark rum concoction is best enjoyed on nights that are, well, dark and stormy. It’s a simple concoction best served in a pint glass. With ginger beer, dark smooth rum, and a twist of lime. 

The Last Word

Chartreuse, once made by Benedictine monks for medicinal purposes, is the oldest liqueur in the world. Put on some Gregorian Chant records, Get a nice book and shake all these up in equal parts and serve up: gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and fresh lime juice.

White Russian

The ultimate comfort food for adults. Use two parts vodka to one crème de cocoa, top with half and half. 

Hot Toddy

Brandy or bourbon, hot water, lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey. This drink ranks among the turning leaves and no longer having to wear shorts, as to why we look forward to the rainy season in the first place. Ad an added bonus, it's an acceptable way to drink booze when you're sick.  


Related Slideshow: The 7 Strangest Beers Around

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Upright Brewing Oyster Stout

Oyster Stout sounds strange, right? Just imagine your stout with a salty kick and a mineral taste at the end. It turns out to be very flavorful, time tested concoction. Locally, Upright Brewing makes a tasty one in their seasonal portfolio and looks like it will be released shortly after the first of the year.

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Rogue Ales Beard Beer

While most beer is brewed with carefully cultivated yeast strains, there are any number of wild yeasts that can be used, though this one is decidedly the strangest.  Somehow Rogue Brewer John Maier “discovered” a natural yeast ideal for brewing in his beard. Yuck. Stylistically, an “American Wild Ale, if you are really interested in trying it yourself, you can buy a bottle here.

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Wynkoop Brewery Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout

What started – and should have ended – as an April Fools’ Day prank led to the release of Wynkoop Brewery’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. They only sell it in two packs. Get it? I won’t suggest where you might buy this one, dear reader, because I like you and would not do that to you.

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Rogue Ales Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale 

Rogue Ales Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale has been on the market for a while and is ubiquitous in Portland, as are the other mistakes they brewed to taste like Portland’s biggest tourist trap’s products. Good for Rogue for hopping on the tourist bandwagon by partnering with Voodoo Doughnuts on this uniquely Portland beer. This beer drinker has to admit that drinking this beer forced me to admit that not everything is actually better with bacon.

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Evil Twin Turkish Delight

Me: What does Turkish Delight taste like?

Beer store clerk: Um, it tastes like Turkish Delight.

Me: Um, okay. What is Turkish Delight?

Clerk: Just try it.

Tastes like put coffee and cardamom in my darker ale. Nuff said? I’m not chomping at the bit to try either Turkish Delight or the Evil Twin’s Turkish Delight beer again. It is available locally at Belmont Station if you are interested.

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Bison Brewing Organic Gingerbread Ale

Ginger. Nutmeg. Cinnamon. No I’m not talking about a dessert or even a hot beverage but Bison Brewing’s Organic Gingerbread Ale. Somehow, it works to create a great flavored porter. Yum. Rumor has it that John’s Market still has a few sixers of this one left. 

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Rogue Ales Sriracha Stout

Apparently 2014 was the Year of the Rooster, with millions more discovering Sriracha, a simple staple in Vietnamese restaurants (and a product that has stayed stocked in my fridge since at least 2005). Never one to miss hopping on a bandwagon, Rogue Ales brewed a stout with it. Shocking, right? It tastes exactly like you’d expect: like someone pranked you by sneaking some hot sauce into your otherwise tasty stout when you went to the loo. The only place to find this gem is at Rogue Hall until more is released after the first of the year.


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