Magazine article Sunset

Brown Liquor Fridays: Make over Your Weekend Cocktails with the West's Newest and Tastiest Craft Whiskeys

Magazine article Sunset

Brown Liquor Fridays: Make over Your Weekend Cocktails with the West's Newest and Tastiest Craft Whiskeys

Article excerpt


A DRINKING TRADITION was born at Sunset at the end of a long week several years ago. Saturated by wine, some of my tasting colleagues decided to shift gears to slide into the weekend. Brown liquor was called for--neat, over ice, and in ever more creative (okay, wild) cocktails. We were a bit ahead of the curve in calling for local ingredients; at the time, the West's small craft distillers were focusing on vodka and gin. Those that had whiskey to offer were mostly starting with bulk product from the South, then finishing it to their liking in barrels.

Times have changed! Whiskey is the newest infatuation of the West's master distillers--made from local grain (corn, wheat, barley, rye) and fine-tuned in an array of styles. The term "whiskey" is the umbrella moniker for this whole family of spirits. The best-known American version is bourbon, most closely associated with Kentucky. But no rule says that bourbon must come from the South. In broad strokes, bourbon only has to be made in the United States, from at least 51 percent corn, and aged in charred new oak barrels. Beyond bourbon, some distillers are taking a page from Scotland, with single malts from barley; a few are even introducing peat into the picture.

A series of tastings here in the office excited our brown liquor faction. Their conclusion: The West's master distillers are showing talent next to none (move over, Kentucky!). We tapped some of our favorites for their thoughts--and cocktails that showcase their whiskeys, for a month of West Coast brown liquor Fridays.



Lance Winters



In a mixing glass, combine 2 oz. St. George Bailer single malt whiskey, 1/2 oz. dry vermouth, such as Dolin Blanc, 1/4 oz. Benedictine, and 2 drops Angostura bitters. Add ice and stir until cold. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.

"Distillation is the closest thing I've found to immortality. My whiskey is a time capsule I can leave for others to experience after I'm gone. There's an irresistible draw to that."


Christian Krogstad




In a shaker, combine 2 oz. House Spirits Westward Oregon straight malt whiskey, 1 oz. …

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