Just two months after the privatization of liquor sales in Washington—meaning you can now buy alcohol in most grocery stores around the city of Seattle—the excitement about well-crafted cocktails and locally-distilled spirits has reached fever pitch. The NW Cocktail and Distillery Festival tapped into that by hosting a two-day festival celebrating producers in the Pacific Northwest and the bartenders who serve their wares. With educational seminars, distillery tasting tables, a cocktail contest, and a Prohibition-themed costume party, there were almost too many cocktails to try, but these ten were the tops of the two days.
Gin & Tonic from Small Hand Foods:
Jennifer Colliau came up from San Francisco to teach a seminar on making your own ingredients for pre-Prohibition style cocktails. Drinking her cocktails was proof of the homemade difference in the ingredients.
The Waiting Game, Terrence Jackson from The Tin Table:
The bright pink hue came from the beet-ginger granita scraped into the glass, topped with rosemary-honey simple syrup and rimmed with dehydrated orange peel.
Gun Street Girl, Matt Bailey from Mistral Kitchen:
The spicy, bright cocktail was a work of art, combining red bell pepper water, lime juice, clover honey, clarified jalapeño, and Helbing caraway liqueur.
A Drink to your Health, Keith Waldbauer from Liberty:
Fresh carrot and orange juice were mixed with New Deal #3 Gin, and New Deal Ginger Liqueur, along with red curry powder and habañero shrub.
Flaming Dutch Oven, Casey Robison from Barrio:
Served from hollowed-out pineapples and lit on fire, there was no missing this one. The Dutch Harbor Grog that was the base liquor was a hit at the distillery sampling table, and the drink matched up the flavor with honey, lime, cinnamon, fresh pineapple, Angostura bitters, and Falernum.
Man with a Gun on a Mission, from the Tin Table:
This pink potion included perhaps the oddest ingredient at the festival: blue cheese tincture. The cheese-y funk was nearly undetectable, though, under layers of lemon juice, blackberry honey water, and figs.
Peach Legacy from Cedarbrook Lodge:
Inside the jar was Bainbridge Island's Legacy vodka, 20 One semillon dessert wine, peach puree, orange juice, and lemon verbena.
Bloody Mary from Demitri's:
Demitri's is a bloody mary mix and accessory company, and the bloodies that they were putting out were strong and spicy, and further improved when sipped through their pepperoni stick-straws.
Ship Canal Punch from Bastille Café and Bar: The Big Gin punch, with its lemony tartness, and indulgent pineapple gomme and curacao sweetness, seemed to be exactly the right drink to sip while people swirled around in flapper dresses with feathers in their hair.
Boozy Milkshake from Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery:
While she has multiple flavors at her Ballard storefront, party-goers toasted with this salted caramel espresso version, spiked with Bulleit Bourbon. A better way to drink your dessert might not exist.
Check them all out in the slideshow above. Did you hit the NW Cocktail and Distillery Festival? Any favorite sips that we missed? Tell us in the comments section.
About the author: Naomi Bishop is a Seattle based food writer and marketer. Find more of her musings on her food blog, TheGastroGnome, where she claims that being a GastroGnome is not about sitting idly on the front lawn of culinary cottages. You can also follow her explorations of cooking and culture around the world at @GastroGnome.