Cozy up to warm drinks made with Oregon spirits

| January 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

These Oregon-flavored warm drinks will take the chill off your holiday party-goers.

The cold weather snap may be gone, but the mood of the season and the lingering nip in the air have me craving warm winter cocktails.

I’m not talking Aunt Sue’s eggnog, which I avoided like someone sneezing, or Irish whiskey either.

With so many creative Oregon distilleries making flavored vodkas and gins such as Hood River Distillery’s Yazi Ginger Vodka, House Spirits’ Slab Town Whiskey, and Ransom Old Tom Gin, it’s time to give the whiskey and gin toddy a distinctly Birkenstock makeover.

I’ve donned my merry mix-master hat and created the following adaptations from common bar recipes, but they are definitely on the light side. You can add more liquor if you want rosier cheeks on your party-goers, but be warned: You don’t want your dinner guests to get too tipsy from your gourmet grog before they can enjoy your meal.

For the first drink, Ransom Old Tom Gin lends a smooth malty and spicy flavor without that juniper berry taste to a lemony toddy. Ransom is a small craft distillery in Sheridan that makes a variety of wonderful whiskeys and gins as well as grappa.

For the second drink, I was inspired by the possibilities of combining SakéOne Moonstone Asian Pear Saké with Anthem Pear Cider. SakéOne makes wonderful varieties of saké in Forest Grove, where you can visit their tasting room. Anthem is a line of delicious fruit ciders made by Wandering Angus.

And for the third drink, I just couldn’t stay away from Oregon Chai. I love the stuff. And the fact that I can get the Oregon Chai Latte concentrate at Winco near where I live in South Salem just makes it all the more convenient. Here I combined Hood River Distillery’s Yazi Ginger Flavored Vodka with the chai, and it’s a perfect marriage. I just love the ginger-infused flavor of Yazi, and the facts that I was born under the Lunar sign of the dragon and the Yazi bottle has a dragon etched on it have nothing to do with my affection for this vodka.

I’m not a whiskey lover by any means, but I forced myself to adapt a classic whiskey toddy recipe for the fourth drink simply because my partner, Charles Price, seems to love the stuff. I mean our Oregon-dominated bar is a third whiskey, a third gin and a third vodka. So it only seems fair to not leave a whiskey lover out of the holiday picture. For this drink, I used House Spirits’ Slab Town Whiskey (made in Portland in very small quantities, so relish it) and combined it with 2 Towns The Bad Apple Semi-Dry Hard Apple Cider (made in Corvallis). This cider is rich and bold with hints of vanilla and is aged on brandy-cured Oregon white oak. Yummy, yummy, yummy.

And what would my wine-making friends (yes, I’m talking to you, Lowell and Brad Ford) say if I didn’t concoct a warm cocktail made from our beloved pinot noir? For this drink, I combined Oregon pinot noir with some non-Oregon Port. I just could not bring myself to sacrifice the last of our Willamette Valley Vineyards Quinta Reserva Port-Style Pinot Noir for this. It’s like garnet gold. (Please make more of this stuff,  Jim Bernau.)

So mix up a batch of whichever tickles your fancy and have a safe and wonderful holiday. Cheers!

— Vic

Ransom Old Tom Gin Lemon Cozy

Makes 4 servings


2 cups water

Juice from 1 lemon, another lemon sliced for garnish

6 tablespoons demerara sugar

¾ cup Ransom Old Tom Gin


In a small saucepan over high heat, bring water to a boil. Lower heat to medium and add lemon juice and sugar and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Add gin and stir until the liquid begins to simmer. Turn off heat and serve garnished with lemon slices.

Saké to Me

Makes 4 servings


1 22-ounce bottle Anthem Pear Cider

3 tablespoons demerara sugar

2 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

4 ounces SakéOne Moonstone Asian Pear Saké


In a small saucepan over medium/low heat, combine cider, sugar, cloves and cinnamon stick. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and cider begins to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, add saké, stir and serve.

Oregon Chai and Yazi Ginger Vodka White Russian

Makes 4 servings


2 cups Oregon Chai Latte concentrate

1 cup milk

1 50-ml. bottle of Yazi Ginger Vodka (you can get this at Battlecreek Liquor Outlet at 5107 Commercial St. SE)

Ground nutmeg to taste


In a small saucepan, bring chai to a simmer over medium/low heat. Add milk and stir until liquid begins to simmer again. Add vodka, stir and serve with a dash or two of ground nutmeg to each cup.

Slab Town Whiskey and Apple Cider Toddy

Makes 4 servings


1 500-ml. bottle of 2 Towns Bad Apple Semi-Dry Hard Apple Cider

3 tablespoons demerara sugar

Juice from half a lemon, the remainder sliced for garnish

3 ounces House Spirits Slab Town Whiskey

Ground nutmeg to taste


In a saucepan over low heat, combine cider and sugar and bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice and stir. When liquid comes back to a simmer, add whiskey, stir and bring back to a simmer. Serve with ground nutmeg.

Oregon Pinot Noir, Port and Star Anise Punch

Makes 4 servings


Half a bottle of fruity Oregon pinot noir such as Stoller 2011 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

3 tablespoons demerara sugar

2 star anise

Freshly squeezed juice from half of a naval orange, remainder sliced for garnish

3 ounces ruby Port


In a saucepan over medium/low heat, combine pinot noir, sugar, star anise and orange juice and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add Port, stir and serve garnished with orange slices.


Category: Beverage, Cocktail

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

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