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February 28, 2015 / Andrew ("the Alchemist")

Big Let Down

I feel like I was lied to about Portland. Plenty of rain was promised. It’s been two weeks and there has been no rain worthy of mention. It has rained more in Los Angeles in that same time. Perhaps I need to go to Seattle, instead.

February 26, 2015 / Andrew ("the Alchemist")

Hello Portland — Welcome to Elemental Mixology!

Today, well into my second week in Portland, I came across a copy of Portland Monthly magazine. There was a blurb on the cover mentioning “Portland’s Top Cocktails.”

I thought, ‘Of course they aren’t all cocktails,’ but yet I thought it would be interesting to see which types of drinks Portlanders and being served.’

Fifteen drinks were highlighted in the article, and a few others were mentioned in conjunction with locally-known bar-tenders.

Of the fifteen highlighted drinks, five of them were actually cocktails. I think it was the editor behind the article that wrote, of one of the bar’s concoctions, “still technically cocktails — we looked it up in Webster’s.” Such ignorance of the traditional cocktail is to be expected. I sigh.

Did I mention that the publication is the March, 2015 edition of Portland Monthly? It was also of interest to read Jeffrey Morgenthaler in this current publication echoing my post from November, 2011. People say that great minds think alike.

Of course, there is the mess of calling cocktails ‘old-fashioned’ even though they contain simple syrup — and the offense to grammar of calling different ones the “Rum Old-fashioned” or the “Mezcal Old-fashioned.” That is to be expected. Anyone who wishes to join the daily growing group of drinkers who actually understand these drinks and the proper grammar to describe them, should read this.

Speaking of true cocktails, of course there was a reference to the Camparinete Cocktail — at least by its later, errant name, the Negroni. Tisk tisk.

But, on to the drinks and survey of types! I will list them alphabetically according to the name of the establishment Portland Monthly says you can get them in, followed by the drink name and then the traditional, pre-prohibition type of drink each actually is.

Ataula — Ciudad Vieja — Cocktail

Aviary — Canicule — Fruit Punch

Imperial — A Radish Walks into a Bar — Fix

Kachka — Infused Vodka Flight — Tea Punch

Kask — Bicycles and Baskets — Fix

LangBaan/Paadee — Tennessee Williams — Fruit Punch or Jitney (depending on ice)

Multnomah Whiskey Library — Old-fashioned [sic] — Cocktail (a modern one, with simple syrup)

Nostrana — Quintessential Negroni [sic] — Cocktail (the Camparinete Cocktail, specifically)

Pepe Le Moko — Amaretto Sour [sic] — Daisy (I have made it for years as the Bourbonetto Daisy)

Raven and Rose — Souracher — Cooler or Highball (depending on the amount of ginger beer)

Richmond — Sassafras — Cocktail (because Root is a grand bitters)

Rum Club — Fino Countdown – Fix

Teardrop Cocktail [sic] Lounge — Illuminations — Sour

Trifecta — Navy-Strength Martini [sic] — Sling (actually the Gibson — not the Martini Cocktail)

Xico — Margarita — Fix (margarita means ‘daisy’ — but theirs is on the rocks, and so, it’s a fix).

The tally indicates that Portland’s top tipples, according to Portland Monthly magazine are actually:

Grogs: 1 total — 1 cooler/highball

Slings: 5 total — 1 sling, 4 cocktails

Possets: 0

Punches: 9 total — 1 tea punch, 4 fixes, 1 sour, 1 daisy, 1 fruit punch, 1 fruit punch/jitney

Blossoms: 0

Juiceballs: 0

Just like everywhere else, Portland drinks more punch that cocktails — and there is nothing wrong with that!

February 24, 2015 / Andrew ("the Alchemist")

LAX to PDX: Instensive Master Mixing Course in Portland

For those alumni that didn’t get a chance to take the Master Mixing Course before Elemental Mixology moved to Portland, and who expressed interest in traveling for that course, there is news…

June 2015 Intensive MMC

What’s more, any alumni students traveling from southern California to Portland for this course will be eligible for $100 off the normal cost. Send an e-mail message to me ( for the discount code.

Alumni may skip session one (Thursday, June 4th, introductory) and session ten (Tuesday, June 9th, experimental) without missing any new material — if skipping those days makes the trip more feasible.

As of the time of this writing, tickets on Air Alaska are selling for about $100 each way, with multiple flights possible for whichever timing makes best sense. Other carriers may have cheaper rates, but I couldn’t find them.

Some people were talking about getting lodging for the duration via AirBnB, either individually or collectively. I recommend staying in, or close to, downtown. From downtown, everything can be reached easily, either by foot or rail or bus.

As it turns out, our real estate agent has a great AirBnB space for up to three people about 25 minutes by car from downtown Portland here. That would be a great peaceful, wooded option for some people to share who plan to rent a car while in the area.

This is going to be a fun course, with plenty of exploration of the Portland’s eateries, drinkeries and other attractions in the evenings.

Sing up for the course here!

February 16, 2015 / Andrew ("the Alchemist")

Drink of the Day

Whiskey Cocktail 20150216

Today’s drink of the day was the first Whiskey Cocktail I have had since arriving in Portland.

Bobby, the bar-tender, didn’t know what I meant when I asked about the Whiskey Cocktail — but, he graciously listened to my description of the drink and executed it perfectly.

The name of the bar is Jake’s, and they have supposedly been around since 1892 — when the Whiskey Cocktail was just about the most commonly ordered drink in any bar in the U.S.A. This one was made of two dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters, a quarter-pony of simple syrup and a jigger (two fl-oz.) of Wild Turkey 101-proof Bourbon whiskey — all stirred through ice and strained into the goblet.

It was the perfect antidote to the stress and exertion of moving!

February 9, 2015 / Andrew ("the Alchemist")


Question: which of the following bottles contains more applejack than the other — the one to the left or the one to the right?

Applejack Quiz

Answer: the one on the left. It is straight apple brandy, or pure applejack. The other one is blended applejack.

That may be confusing to some, but here is the explanation…

In section 5.22 of the Code of Federal Regulations that establishes the legal standards of identity for liquor in the U.S.A., we read:

“apple brandy” may be designated “applejack”


“Blended applejack” (applejack—a blend) is a mixture which contains at least 20 percent of apple brandy (applejack)

Applejack and apple brandy from the U.S.A. are the same thing — both traditionally and legally.

Thus, blended applejack is is made by blending applejack, or apple brandy, with a greater amount of neutral grain spirits. Straight applejack, or straight apple brandy, is the pure stuff. The Scottish analog would be that malt whisky is pure, barley whisky, while blended whisky is a little malt whisky blended with a greater amount of neutral grain spirit. I think of blended whisky as whisky-flavored vodka. I think of blended applejack as applejack-flavored vodka.

I use the older, more traditional term of “straight applejack” throughout my book when referring to un-blended American apple brandy. That should not be misunderstood by anyone as an instruction to use “blended applejack” in any of my recipes!

February 1, 2015 / Andrew ("the Alchemist")

Using Bad Bitters

Using Bad Bitters

Over the years I have ended up with a lot of imitation bitters and bad bitters. I consider any ‘bitters’ made with glycerin instead of spirits to be imitation. I consider any bitters to be bad if their flavor is inferior — or, if they lack the bitterness needed to remove the sensation of alcoholic harshness in a true cocktail.

I will never use imitation bitters or bad bitters in any tipple that I want to serve or drink. I have no interest in packing them up and taking them north.

Then a solution occurred to me for getting the most use out of all of these products…

Today I emptied all of the above-pictured products down the drain. That freed up the bottles (and their dasher inserts) to be stripped of their labels, washed and set aside for the students in the Ingredient Fabrication Course to use to take home the peach bitters we will be making.

Waste not, want not!

P.S. – Since posting, I found a bottle of Elmegirab’s guess at Boker’s bitters and a couple of bottles of things by the San Francisco Diego bitters company. All of that stuff went down the drain to free up the more valuable empty bottles!

January 30, 2015 / Andrew ("the Alchemist")

Blandy’s 5-year Verdelho Madeira in Stock

There is only one store in the greater Los Angeles that has this essential ingredient in both the Baltimore Eggnog and the Sangaree Punch. Wally’s Wine & Spirits had a case of it in the back and none on the shelves. It is, of course, a bit pricier there at $25.99 per bottle, but I took four of them.

That means there are still eight up for grabs. You may have to ask for it, since there seemed to be no place for it on the shelves.

Good luck!


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