Two-Minute Critic

Strange Brew

Call it what you want, Oregon’s new state drink is a bartender’s burden.

By John Chandler May 19, 2009 Published in the December 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

HAPPY HOUR habitués with state pride can rejoice: Oregon now has an unofficial cocktail. (This comes as welcome news to anyone still grousing over the 1997 decision to make milk our official beverage—not exactly what we rugged frontier types would choose.) Hike, Fish, & Go Camping Punch, a fruit-forward invention by Portlander and Eastern Oregon transplant Cheryl Meloy (who has no bartending experience), beat six other contenders to win the state tourism board’s contest for the Beaver State’s signature drink.

We at Portland Monthly are nothing if not cocktail fans, but as cultural gatekeepers for a city of beverage connoisseurs, we’d be remiss not to address the drink’s shortcomings. For one thing, its ingredients: Pendleton whiskey, huckleberry syrup, Terminal Gravity IPA, lemonade, limeade, and a sprig of mint. Six ingredients seems somewhat excessive. So does slow-boiling huckleberries for 20 to 30 minutes, as the recipe requires. Who’s got the time? More important, who’s got the huckleberries? Aren’t we more of a marionberry crowd? But these are minor quibbles compared to the punch’s woefully unwieldy moniker.

When we tried to order a round at Bluehour, we discovered the name of the drink does not roll trippingly off the tongue. We continually mangled the verb-heavy handle beyond recognition—Hike, Bike, & Go Fishing; Fish, Swim, & Go Surfing—and as the evening wore on, our waiter grew increasingly flustered. Although the cocktail is much tastier than its contents would suggest, the name Hike, Fish, & Go Camping Punch is simply not something we can bandy about easily.

A solution is simple.

The awkwardly titled tipple, which seems to be derived from the more famous New York Cocktail (the drinks’ ingredients are mostly the same except for the beer and limeade, and the New York uses grenadine instead of huckleberry syrup), needs a name change. We propose the Pendleton Round-Up. It’s got that frontier feel. Plus, if you have to say only three words when ordering, you’re less likely to sound like a lush and be cut off before you even get the chance to take a sip.

Filed under