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Brown liquor Fridays: make over your weekend cocktails with the west's newest and tastiest craft whiskeys.

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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.

DISTILLERS & THEIR SHOWCASE COCKTAILS

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Lance Winters

ST. GEORGE SPIRITS, ALAMEDA, CA

MR. BURNS

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."

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Christian Krogstad

HOUSE SPIRITS

DISTILLERY, PORTLAND

MALT WHISKEY FIZZ

In a shaker, combine 2 oz. House Spirits Westward Oregon straight malt whiskey, 1 oz. Cointreau, 1 oz. lemon juice, 1/2 oz. simple syrup, and 1/2 oz. egg whites *, then shake vigorously. Add ice and shake again. Pour into a highball glass and top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with 4 drops Angostura bitters.

* To make egg whites easier to measure, whip with a fork or purchase them in a carton.

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Mark Nesheim

J.P. TRODDEN DISTILLING, WOODINVILLE, WA

MAPLE OLD-FASHIONED

Fill a lowball glass with ice. Add 2 oz. J.P. Trodden small-batch bourbon, 1/2 oz. maple syrup, such as J.P. Trodden barrel-aged maple syrup, 1 oz. S. Pellegrino sparkling water, and 3 drops orange bitters; stir to blend. Garnish with an orange twist*.

* Peel orange twist over the glass to capture the natural oils.

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Orlin Sorensen and Brett Carlile

WOODINVILLE WHISKEY CO., WOODINVILLE, WA

THE BOULEVARDIER NEGRONI

In a mixing glass, combine 1 1/2 oz. Woodinville Whiskey Co. straight bourbon whiskey, 1 oz. sweet red vermouth, 1/2 oz. Campari, and ice; stir until cold. Strain over ice in a lowball glass. Garnish with an orange twist and a maraschino cherry.

"Whiskey has substance. It has roots. And a properly distilled and aged bourbon is full of character and depth. As the saying goes, 'All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.'"

OUR BOTTLE PICKS

Greenbar Slow Hand Six Woods malt cask whiskey ($38). Spicy and buttery; complex wood flavors and Scotch-like smoke, greenbar.biz.

House Spirits Westward Oregon straight malt whiskey ($50). Smooth and perfumed with lavender, citrus, and spice, west wardwhiskey.com.

J.P. Trodden small-batch bourbon ($62). Caramel, subtle oak, and spice, with floral hints. jptrodden.com.

St. George Baller single malt whiskey ($65). Citrus, smoke, caramel, and vanilla in rich layers, stgeorge spirits, com.

Spirit Works straight wheat whiskey ($65). Fennel, anise, citrus, tobacco, and smooth butterscotch. spiritworks distiilery.com.

Woodinville Whiskey Co. straight bourbon whiskey ($55). Caramel and spice, with chocolate and lovely florals, woo din villewhiskeyco.com.

Wyoming smallbatch bourbon whiskey ($40). Gentle caramel, with spice and peppery notes. wyomingwhiskey.com.
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Author:Schneider, Sara
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 2016
Words:729
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