Every October, some of the nation’s best bartenders and biggest liquor brands converge on the City of Roses for Portland Cocktail Week (PDXCW), which starts this weekend. For bartenders and mixologists, it’s a chance to attend the prestigious Bar Institute, where they can hone the finer points of their trade with courses like “The Sensory Aesthetics of Garniture” and “Scaling and Batching Cocktails Professionally.” For the liquor industry, it’s a chance for major brands to promote their wares in front of some of the nation’s most influential tastemakers. And for members of Portland’s cocktail community – both makers and consumers, it’s a chance to sample some amazing cocktails while rubbing elbows with bartenders from across the nation.
Portland Cocktail Week’s schedule of “After School Activities” can be a little overwhelming at first glance, so we’ve combed through the calendar and consulted our industry contacts to come up a list of “must-attend” events that you can hopefully attend without causing permanent liver damage.
Nota Bene: You must have a Festival Pass to attend PDXCW events, with the exception of two events that are open to the general public and are noted below. If you didn’t get a Festival Pass, you should definitely go to those!
Kick Off Portland Cocktail Week with Trail’s End™
at ClearCreek Distillery
PDXCW 2015 kicks off (literally – it’s in the name of event) with the official launch of Trail’s End™, a new Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from local distillers ClearCreek. ClearCreek is probably best know for their fruit brandies and liqueurs, so it’ll be interesting how they fare in Whiskey territory.
House Spirits Distillery Grand Opening
One of the founding members of Distillery Row, the venerable House Spirits is one of Portland’s oldest and best-known distillers, thanks in large part to the success of their now-ubiquitous Aviation Gin (we even mentioned them recently in an article for Localeur). After over a decade in Portland, they’re finally moving to new digs on Southeast Washington.
Swig ‘n Swine with the Bon Vivants (Open to the Public)
at White Owl Social Club
As the name implies, there’s not a whole that’s fancy about Swig ‘n Swine, but it’s still a damn good time – gallons of boozy punch, food from local chefs at Renata, Coquine and Let Um Eat, and best of all, the proceeds from the event go to support local charter schools. Your ticket ($30 in advance, $40 at the door) gets you a commemorative t-shirt in addition to admission. Get your tickets here.
Oregon Bartenders’ Guild Mashup of All Things Oregon
at Lardo West
There’s a lot of outside talent at Portland Cocktail Week, but on Sunday, local mixology will be front and center as the Oregon Bartenders’ Guild some of Portland’s best cocktails to Lardo West. Not to be missed.
Jack Daniel’s Presents: A Night at the Barrel House
at Urban Studio
A large part of Monday night is devoted to the Undergraduate and Masters Program Dinners for the Bar Institute, but if you have the chance, head over to Urban Studio to see Jack Daniel’s Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher. We tend to get a little snotty about mainstream brands here in Portland, but you can expect Chris to offer some insight into one of Tennessee’s most iconic brands. (You can read a profile of him here.)
Jägermeister back to BASE-ics
at Really Big Video
Yes, yes, I know – every when I say “Jäger”, you immediately think of drop shots and bars in the Entertainment District, but Jägermeister seems to be actively trying to rebrand themselves in a less bro-tastic light. (They were recently profiled in a feature for VICE.) We can expect to see Jägermeister highlighting the myriad ingredients and European roots of their signature product – which, in a digestif-friendly town, probably isn’t a bad way to go.
Crown Royal Feast For a King
Last year’s Feast For a King was undoubtedly one of my favorite events at PDXCW. This year’s Feast For a King will feature food from four local chefs and at least four different Crown Royal-based cocktails. While I don’t necessarily drink Canadian whiskey on the daily, there’s a lot more that you can do with Crown Royal than just the usual Crown & Coke. You should go see for yourself.
Canadian Tuxedo Party, sponsored by Forty Creek
at Union Pine
Further proof that Portlanders/hipsters love all things Canadian, Forty Creek Whisky (no “E” – interesting choice for a Canadian distillery) will serving Forty Creek cocktails and Canadian beers, so grab your jean jacket and head on down to Union Pine. Wait, you’re already wearing a jean jacket? Cool cool.
National Bartender Showcase (Open to the Public)
at Really Big Video
One of the highlights of PDXCW is the National Bartender Showcase, where bartenders from each of the five regions of the United States Bartenders’ Guild will showcase their talents. Admission is $20.
The Hennessy House
at Bit House Saloon
Hot on the heels of being named Portland’s Bar of the Year last week by The Oregonian, Bit House Saloon will be hosting the final party of Portland Cocktail Week, sponsored by Hennessy. Ice luges, frozen cocktails, DJs… make sure you close out PDXCW in style.
International Snow Leopard Day Breakfast
sponsored by Snow Leopard Vodka at Hotel Eastlund
Friday marks the final day of Portland Cocktail Week, but in the conservation world, it’s also International Snow Leopard Day, so to close out the week, Snow Leopard Vodka will be hosting a breakfast at Hotel Eastlund in honor of their endangered namesake. (They do a shade more than just host breakfasts, too – 15% of their profits go Snow Leopard conservation projects.)
With multiple events every night, it’s very easy to get boozy at Portland Cocktail Week. And since most of the venues are scattered around town, I think it’s worth reminding people that you should always drink responsibly.
If you haven’t gotten on the rideshare bandwagon, yet, events like these are a good time to give it a try. And since we’re not above a good referral plug, if you’re new to Uber / Lyft, you can use one of the codes below to get a $20 ride credit!
Portland Cocktail Week (portlandcocktailweek.com)
17 – 23 October 2015