Portland’s Next Classic Cocktails Will Rewrite the Rules of the Liquor Cabinet

The city's top bartenders share the secrets for their best new drinks.

By Benjamin Tepler Illustrations by Scotty Reifsnyder April 15, 2016 Published in the May 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

We love Clyde Common’s barrel-aged negroni. We adore Laurelhurst Market’s smoked ice cocktail. But for our second round, we’re ready for something new. We tapped some of Portland’s most impressive bartenders for their next great quaffs, all but guaranteed to be Rose City signatures in the years to come.

Master Cleanse


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A sweet, bright, morning eye-opener upends a fresh carrot and apple juice health tonic with a jigger of smoky tequila, lemon tang, and spicy  cinnamon agave, all rimmed with salt and cayenne.

2 oz fresh carrot juice (Besaw’s uses Nantes carrots from Groundwork Organics)
2 oz fresh apple juice (Besaw’s uses Granny Smiths from Kiyokawa Orchards)
1½ oz Altos Reposado tequila
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz cayenne-cinnamon agave syrup*
Sam’s Chile Salt**

Rim pint glass with chile spice mix and set aside. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Pour into pint glass and garnish with a lemon wheel. 

*Cayenne-Cinnamon Agave Syrup

Combine 2 cups agave syrup, 1 cup hot water, ½ tsp cayenne, and ½ tsp cinnamon in a bowl and stir to incorporate. Let cool and strain through cheesecloth. Store in a covered jar or bottle.

**Sam’s Chile Salt

Combine one ground dried ancho chile (seeds removed) with 7 tbsp kosher salt and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Store in a lidded jar. 

—Recipe courtesy Besaw’s co-owner Cana Flug and Bull in China

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Southbound Suarez

Clyde Common

Tart, sweet, and nutty, this much-improved margarita gets its milky hue from house-made horchata, blended weekly by local bar hero Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

1.5 oz Reposado tequila
.5 oz agave syrup
.5 oz lime juice
1 tsp Becherovka
1.5 oz horchata*

Add all ingredients to a shaker. Shake and strain over a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with lime.


Combine 1 cup California long grain rice3 cups hot water1 three-inch long Ceylon cinnamon stick, and ½ cup sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar, cover, and let rest overnight or for up to 24 hours. Pour entire mixture into a blender and blend on high speed until rice is pulverized, about a minute. Strain through nut milk bag into a bowl and refrigerate. Horchata will separate; stir before serving.

—Recipe courtesy Clyde Common and Pepe Le Moko bar manager Jeffrey Morgenthaler

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Sherry Flip

Trifecta Tavern

A deep nutmeg thrum and the ineffably bitter rush of Italian Ramazzotti amaro suffuse each sip of this subtly sweet, egg-frothy oloroso flip. It smells of old libraries and wet afternoons.

1½ oz Olorosso Sherry (try Lustau Olorosso Don Nuno)
1 oz Ramazotti Amaro
1 tsp demerara simple syrup*
1 whole egg
Freshly grated nutmeg

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and then add the egg. (“This is a great party trick, as people always trip out when you add a whole egg,” says Trifecta bar manager Colin Carroll.) Cap the shaker and shake vigorously to emulsify the egg and spirits. Add ice and shake again for another 10-20 seconds. Strain the mixture into a snifter or wine glass. Last, grate fresh nutmeg over the top and enjoy!

—Recipe courtesy Trifecta bar manager Colin Carroll

*Demerara Simple Syrup

Combine 1 cup demerara sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, let cool, and store to a glass jar. Or, just buy Hale Pale and Americano owner Blair Reynolds’ B.G. Reynold’s Rich Demerara Syrup. —PoMo Eds

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One.Ping.Only Punch

Teardrop Lounge

Teardrop’s Daniel Shoemaker and Sean Hoard call everyone to the table with a bright, super-summery gin punch; juicy with fresh strawberry purée and goosed with Thai chile tincture and crème de cacao, all rounded out with tart Rodenbach Grand Cru Belgian ale. (Serves 4–6)

9 oz Hendrick’s gin
4 ½ oz lime
3 oz strawberry purée
3 oz honey mix
1 ½ oz crème de cacao
¾ oz green chartreuse
15-20 drops Thai chile tincture*
2 pinches salt
18 oz Rodenbach Grand Cru Belgian ale
Fresh strawberries

Combine all ingredients (except the Belgian ale) in a large shaker tin (or split between 2), add ice and shake gently to incorporate. Strain over ice in a punch bowl. Top w/ Belgian ale, and garnish liberally with strawberry slices.  

*Thai Chile Tincture

Stem and split 3 ounces or around 25 Thai chiles in half lengthwise. Place in a mason jar and top with a high-proof rum like Wray & Nephew. Seal well, and agitate daily for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain well (using rubber gloves; it’s hot!), and funnel into a dropper bottle.  

—Recipe courtesy Teardrop Lounge owner and Commissary co-owner Daniel Shoemaker

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Raven & Rose

With each new gig, star barman David Shenaut takes this puckery, Vermouth di Torino and Campari–soused ginger beer float one step closer to the nth degree. We think it’s getting pretty close.

3/4 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz lime juice
Spicy ginger beer
Lime wheel garnish

Add rye, vermouth, Campari, and lime juice to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into Collins glass over fresh ice, top with spicy ginger beer and garnish with lime wheel.

—Recipe courtesy bar manager David Shenaut

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Gin Tonic

Chesa (now closed)

Bartender Tony Gurdian adopts a herculean upgrade to a well classic. Ditching the usual tonic water, he combines Tanqueray with a simple syrup he crafts with medical-grade quinine and clarified lime juice, and carbonates it all together. Impossibly crisp, it is the platonic ideal of a G&T. 

Bartender Tony Gurdian’s adopted gin drink employs far too many pieces of equipment to easily replicate at home. Instead, the geeky barman offered up his own tips for superior DIY gin tonics:

“Temperature is everything when you’re building a gin and tonic. Cold items prevent excess dilution and CO2 thrives in cold temperatures. So, put your gin in the freezer, keep your glasses in the freezer, and make sure the tonic is as cold as you can get without freezing it. Use high quality tonic, and buy it in small bottles so you won’t be left with open tonic bottles between uses from day to day. Also, the lime must be freshly cut to order per each Gin Tonic. You stick to those rules and you will have a very nice G&T.  But if you want the best, come see me!” —Tony G

Ed note: Bartender Tony Gurdian and Chesa parted way since this review first published in mid-April. According to Chesa, the restaurant’s signature Gin Tonic will remain on the menu.

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Horseradish Vodka


Of the Soviet drinking den’s 50-plus local and international vodkas, none will have you sipping straight with a Tolstoy novel in hand like its unfiltered, house-infused horseradish vodka rounded out with a touch of honey. It’s now dangerously available, thanks to Kachka’s new retail line, Troika Spirits.

Freeze vodka bottle. Serve straight in a shot glass or use in a dirty martini.

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Pepper Smash #2

Oven and Shaker

Aquavit and fresh yellow bell pepper juice—who knew? O&S co-owner and bar mastermind Ryan Magarian’s herbaceous Scandinavian garden party comes on maple sweet with a funky vegetal backbone and a noseful of mint to hold your attention.

12–15 mint leaves
2 oz Krogstad Aquavit
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz freshly extracted yellow bell pepper juice (about ¼ of a pepper)
¾ oz diluted Grade A maple syrup (½ oz maple syrup mixed with ¼ oz water)

Add mint and all liquid ingredients to a pint mixing glass and hand press with a muddler. Fill glass with ice, top with shaker, and shake vigorously for 8 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with two large mint sprigs.

—Recipe courtesy of Oven and Shaker co-owner Ryan Magarian

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An Arranged Marriage


Breaking the age-old bartending rule of combining shaken and stirred spirits, this drink is literally two cocktails in one. A float of manhattan is poured over a simple ginger-amaro sour for a sipper that starts smooth and heady, and slowly dips into tart, spicy territory. 

Ginger Amaro Sour:

1 ½ oz Amaro Ciociaro
½ oz ginger syrup*
1 oz lemon juice


.75 oz JTS Brown Bonded Bourbon
.5 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
5 dashes angostura bitters.

Add amaro, ginger syrup and lemon juice to a shaker with ice. Stir the bourbon, vermouth, and angostura in a separate mixing glass with ice. Shake the ginger amaro sour and pour over a large rocks glass with ice. Slowly pour the Manhattan over the sour to "float" and garnish with an orange twist.

*Ginger syrup

Peel and cut roughly 1 ½ lbs fresh ginger and blend in a food processor. Strain the juice into a small pot through a fine mesh strainer and add 1 cup white sugar. Heat slowly over low heat, just until dissolved and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

—Recipe courtesy Expatriate bar manager Eric Nelson

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A Field Near Arles

Americano (now closed)

This group sipper blends three types of vermouth (French, Italian, and American) in a French press loaded with gin, slices of citrus, thyme, and lavender, alongside a carafe of tonic water for mixing. Think of it as sangria for fortified wine lovers.

4 oz Vya Whisper Vermouth
4 oz Dolin Blanc
4 oz Cocchi Americano
½ grapefruit, sliced into wedges
Zest from ½ a lemon
1 small bunch thyme
4 sprigs lavender (or 1 Tbsp dried lavender)

Infuse all ingredients in a French press for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. To serve, push down on the French press, pour over ice, and top with tonic water.

—Recipe courtesy Americano bar manager Kate Bolton

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Dressed to Kill

Rum Club

The new face of tiki is all citrus, thanks to a grapefruit cordial that tastes like a pithy Ruby Red on steroids with a dark, rumbling volcano of cinnamon-allspice notes from small-batch Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki bitters (not to be confused with local salt, chocolate, and bitters curator Mark Bitterman.)

1 1/2 oz London dry gin
1/2 oz Appleton signature
3/4 oz fresh lime juice 
3/4 oz grapefruit cordial*
5 drops Bittermens tiki bitters
Orange twist 

Put all ingredients (except orange twist) in a shaker. Shake, strain, and serve in a coupe glass topped with the orange twist.

*Grapefruit cordial

Juice 2 peeled grapefruits, reserving the peels (you should get about 1 cup of juice.) Put grapefruit juice, reserved peel, ½ cup fresh lime juice, ½ cup water, 3 cups granulated sugar, and 1 tsp citric acid into a high-powered blender and blend on low speed for 20 minutes. Strain through chinoix or fine-mesh strainer.

—Recipe courtesy Rum Club bar manager Emily Mistell

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