Proof Reading: Karen Locke’s Guide to Booze in Portland

When I first heard that local writer Karen Locke was planning on releasing a guidebook to Portland’s distillery scene, I was initially skeptical. For one thing, I don’t really know Karen that well. For another, the idea of a printed guidebook to ANYTHING seemed questionable in a city where bars and restaurants turn over faster than members of the Trump administration.

It turns out that I judged wrongly, though. Locke, a veteran of Portland’s food and beverage scenes with bylines in Bon Appetite, Thrillist, and Willamette Week, was shrewd to shine her focus on Portland’s distilling scene, where the high cost of buy-in limits the players to only the most committed and (presumably) the most talented. Even niche upstarts like Thomas & Sons are thriving alongside more Portland’s established craft distilleries.


And do we need a book about it? In a word, yes. In a 150-odd pages, High Proof PDX manages to take the reader on a concise, punchy of tour not only of Portland’s distilling scene, but of what it means to be a cocktail enthusiast in Portland, period. While the bulk of the book is dedicated to illuminative distillery profiles peppered with interesting tidbits and veteran recommendations (as you’d expect from a tome of this ilk), the author layers in a few humorous anecdotes and drinking tips, some solid bar recommendations, and a pretty comprehensive primer on drinking terminology.

If you like cocktails and you’re new to Portland,
this should be the first book on your shelf.

If you like cocktails and you’re new to Portland, this should be the first book on your shelf. (In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this book should come bundled with every Distillery Row Passport.) And while the target demo for this book is obviously the Portland newbie and the cocktail neophyte, Karen’s breadth of knowledge on the subject is substantive enough that even a pickled old salt such as myself found quite a few tidbits that I’m sure I’ll bust out the next time I’m making the rounds on Distillery Row. At under thirteen dollars, the price point is modest enough that you can justify the expenditure to yourself the next time you’re trying to casually impress that travel nurse you met on Tinder by taking them to the United States’ only baijiu distillery.

High Proof PDX comes out on September 19. If you want to get your hands on a copy, you can order the book at Amazon, or you can attend one of the two upcoming events below. You can also visit Karen’s website and the official website for the book.



High Proof PDX Book Launch
Thursday, 7 September 2017 from 5 PM to 10 PM
Bit House Saloon – 727 Southeast Grand Avenue, Portland
Cocktails from the Team Riff Raff, giveaways… and an ice luge, because why not?

High Proof PDX at Powell’s
Sunday, 10 September 2017 at 7:30 PM
Powell’s City of Books – 1005 West Burnside Avenue, Portland
Karen will be joined in conversation by distiller Lee Medoff, founder of Bull Run Distilling. After party across the street at Quality Bar.

For more events, check out High Proof PDX’s website.

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