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Get schooled in spirits at Toast

Tickets available for Oregon Distillers Guild's annual tasting

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: TOAST - More than 40 distillers will pour samples of hundreds of spirits at Toast to be held March 7 at Leftbank Annex.

Ready for a food find of extraordinary proportions? Mark your calendar for Toast on March 7, Oregon Distillers Guild’s signature artisan spirits tasting event. Now in its fifth year, Toast offers attendees the opportunity to meet artisan distillers and owners, learn about their process and sample the spirits they so passionately make.

The ODG was founded in 2007, to “spread the good word that Oregon is the premier destination for spirit aficionados, while furthering post-Prohibition legislative agendas, all in order to sustain and build a thriving craft spirits industry.”

I confess I know nothing about spirits; this invitation to learn from those who produce quality spirits seemed the best way to learn about them. I asked ODG President Ted Pappas, the distiller at Big Bottom Distilling in Portland, what Toast attendees could expect at the event.

Whether you prefer whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, tequila, brandy, liqueurs or rare spirits like absinthe or aquavit you’ll find it at Toast. In fact, you can sample hundreds of spirits provided by more than 40 distillers.

“You’ll be greeted when you arrive, given a tasting cup and a guide book,” Pappas said. “This is a flowing experience, not a marathon. We want people to hang out with us, visit with the distillers and learn about what they offer. We are promoting responsible drinking and want to make sure everyone has a good time.”

Distillers represented include 2 Bar Spirits, 3 Howls Distillery, 4 Spirits Distillery, Big Bottom Distilling, Aria, Bull Run Distillery, Camp 1805 Distillery, Cascade Alchemy, Clear Creek Distillery, Crater Lake Spirits, Crescendo!, Double V Distillery, Dry Fly Distillery, Eastside Distilling, Elixir, Flooded Fox Den Distillery, Glasper Estate, Hard Times Distillery, House Spirits Distillery, Indio Spirits, JVR Spirits, McMenamins Distillery, New Deal Distillery, Northwest Distillery, Oregon Spirit Distillers, Rogue Spirits, Rolling River Spirits, Sound Spirits Distillery, Spiritopia, Townshends Tea, Tualatin Valley Distilling, Vinn Distillery, Vivacity Spirits and Wild Roots Vodka.

Pappas said a highlight of the evening will be the premier release from the Oregon Starka Project. The project was inspired by an old Russian custom of burying an oak barrel of vodka when a child is born and unearthing it to be served to guests at the child’s wedding celebration. Big Bottom Distilling, Bull Run Distilling and Indio Spirits have collaborated on adapting the tradition for modern times and put their own twist on the product.

“This is a big deal,” Pappas said of the Oregon Starka Project. “In the old days, a person would get married at like age 14, so it wasn’t like it was buried for 25 or more years. This is liquor you will pull out for special occasions. All three of us want to have a better product. We’re working together to help each other create this new spirit.”

You can be among the first to sample Oregon Sparka Project spirits at Toast.

Knowing you will want something special to eat, chefs Elias Cairo of Olympic Provisions, Johanna Ware of Smallwares, Scott Dolich of The Bent Brick, Matthew Fields of Stella Taco and Kevin Shantz of the soon-to-be-open RingSide Grill will serve bites to complement the spirits.

Oregon Coffee Guild, Bradley’s Tonic Co. and Raft Botanicals will also be serving and skilled bartenders will be creating unique cocktails for guests to purchase at the bar.

Toast is going to be fun and educational. It will be held from 4-10 p.m. March 7 at the Leftbank Annex, 101 N. Weidler in Portland. Pappas expects the crowd to come in two waves: Those arriving at 4 p.m. will find the music mellow and conducive to conversation; come early if you want to chat with the owners and distillers at length. At 7 p.m., Pappas expects the music and party spirit to rise.

“Creating spirits does take passion,” he said. “This is what gets us out of bed in the morning.”

Tickets are $45 general admission or $60 for the VIP. The general admission includes a commemorative tasting glass, specialty food, spirits samples and the Oregon Distillery Trail Scout book.

The VIP entry fee includes the same plus two cocktails, access to the VIP area and access to the after party with the distillers. Your designated driver non-drinking admission is $15 and includes entry to the event, free non-alcoholic drinks and food. Taxi service will be available, too.

According to Steven Earles, CEO of Eastside Distlling, has noticed our drinking habits are changing.

“People are drinking less wine and more whiskey, and women have become more inclined to give whiskey a try,” he said. Eastside experiments with a variety of flavors in its drinks, such as Cherry Bomb Whiskey and Oregon Marionberry Whiskey. You can sample them at Toast, or try them now in the recipes he has shared.

Join me at Toast March 7 — I’ll be there early while the music is mellow.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Eastside Distilling CEO Steven Earles says the classic whiskey cocktail is the Old Fashioned but for those looking to add variety to their whiskey and bourbon selections, he offers these cocktail recipes:


Earl’s Demise

25 ounces Cherry Bomb Whiskey (one 750 ML bottle)

12.5 ounces Burnside Bourbon

75 ounces Smith Teamaker Earl Grey tea (chilled)

25 ounces orange juice

25 ounces simple syrup

12.5 ounces sweet vermouth

5 tablespoons Peychaud’s bitters

Mix all the ingredients in a large punch bowl, then add ice or ice ring. Serve in small punch glasses. The mixture serves 10-12 people.

The Sideburn

1 1/2 ounces Burnside Whiskey

3/4 ounces Aperol

1/2 ounce Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

1 ounce fresh lemon juice

1/2 ounce lavender simple syrup

Fill a 14 ounce rocks glass with ice, add all the other ingredients and stir.


Eastside Civil War

1 1/2 ounces Burnside Bourbon

1/2 ounce Cocchi Torino Sweet Vermouth

1/2 ounce Cynar (an Italian bitter liqueur)

2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters

Amarena cherry

Add all the ingredients, except the cherry, to a 16-ounce mixing glass (pint glass). Fill to within 1 inch of the top with ice.

Stir until chilled and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an Amarena cherry.


Marionberry Beret

1.5 ounces Marionberry Whiskey

1/2 ounce Dry Curacao

2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice

Fill a glass with ice, add Burnside Bourbon and the rest of the ingredients.

Recipes courtesy of Eastside Distilling.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at brandall@lakeoswegoreview.com. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.


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