The art of mixing a drink is much like the art of creating a dish. Like their compadres in chef whites, mixologists thrive on creativity to develop each offering, heavily influenced by where they’ve been and where they’re going. They mesh flavors and textures, confer with their peers, gain inspiration through memories, experiences, seasons. Timing, technique, and ingredient all come into play.
Thanks to an invitation from Geoff Kleinman over at DrinkSpirits.com, I snagged a spot on the judging panel for Saturday’s holiday cocktail competition at the annual Northwest Food and Wine Festival, where some of Portland’s finest bar masters stepped behind the stick to bring their best holiday mixer. The first opportunity I’ve had to see a collection of what Stumptown has to offer on the bar side of things, I was impressed by every one of the competitors. Using a wide variety of great spirits, taste and presentation were spot on, as each offered his or her own take on the holiday theme.
The bar roster:
- David Shenaut, Beaker & Flask
- Adam Robinson, Park Kitchen
- Heather Brady, Thatch Tiki Bar
- Michael Lorberbaum, McMenamins Ringlers Annex
- Neil Kopplin, Clyde Common
- Lindsay Matteson, Mint/820
- Tommy Klus, Teardrop Lounge
- Allison Webber, Irving Street Kitchen
- Jabriel Donohue, Acadia
- Mary Bartlett, Teardrop Lounge
Once the competition ended, with the talented Tommy Klus taking home first prize with his Feliz Noggy Nog, I had a chance to hit a few of the event tables. The festival, focused on some of the finest food, wine, beer, and spirits in the Pacific Northwest, offered over 100 vendors, with restaurants like H5O, Aquariva, Davis Street Tavern, The Original, and Allium Bistro plating bites for the packed room of hungry guests. Also on hand, a number of stellar local producers, vintners, and brewers, including Brooks Wines, Deco Distilling, J. Scott Cellars, Sweet Briar Farms, Rogue Ales, Mt. Hood Winery, New Deal Distillery, Hama Hama Oysters, Valley of the Moon Winery, and many more.
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*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender