On Long Beach Peninsula, that thin finger of sand extending from Southern Washington’s coastline, Starvation Alley Farms is busy growing your new favorite cocktail mixer. In a bog surrounded by 10 acres of Northwest farmland, young owners Jared Oakes and Jessika Tantisook wade through the waist-high water to skim and collect cranberries every October. Waterlogged boggers yank thick fistfuls of weeds entangling the crimson haul before sending the berries to be cleaned and flash-frozen (check out photos of Starvation Alley’s cranberry harvest).

Each week throughout the year, the team thaws and cold-presses just enough of its berries to make another fresh batch of juice for its growing Northwest fan base at farmers markets, restaurants, and bars—only around 100 gallons a month. It’s worth all the trouble: the four-year-old, all-organic operation’s mouth-puckering cranberry juice bears little resemblance to the overly sweet, ultrapasteurized supermarket brands you’re used to. 

At the Woodsman Tavern, beverage director Evan Zimmerman embraces Starvation’s labor-intensive version of the oft-maligned mixer: “We’ve always shrugged our shoulders when people ask for vodka cranberries or cosmopolitans—we refuse to use that Ocean Spray crap.” Zimmerman’s newest creation, the Upland Sour, a scotch-based cocktail with cardamom spice and a thimbleful of Starvation Alley juice, is proof that cranberries are making a comeback. “You don’t need to use much,” says Zimmerman, “but, man, does it pack a wallop.” 

Upland Sour

Combine 1 oz blended scotch, 1 oz applejack, 1 oz cardamom maple syrup,* 1 oz lemon juice, ½ oz egg whites, and a scant ½ oz Starvation Alley cranberry juice** in a mixing glass. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a lowball glass and serve with ice. 

*To make cardamom maple syrup, combine 2 cups Grade B maple syrup and 2 tbsp whole cardamom pods and steep over medium heat for 12–15 minutes. Strain syrup before storing. 

**Starvation Alley’s “Cranberry for Concoctions” juice is available at Food Front Cooperative Groceryfind more locations online

This article appeared in the March 2014 issue of Portland Monthly.
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