Upland Sour: The Ultimate Cranberry Cocktail

Washington’s first organic cranberry farm juices up local cocktails.

By Benjamin Tepler March 3, 2014 Published in the March 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

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

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