On Monday, July 27, the sun beaming down on the city of Portland caused temperatures to hit record highs in the 100s. That was an even deeper incentive, I thought, to attend an event centered around some of Portland's finest distilled spirits that would be concocted by a few of the city's most creative mixologists, served cold, and most likely both shaken, and stirred.
Hosted by the Oregon Bartenders Guild (OBG) and held at Hobnob Grille in SE Portland, the OBG Mixology Competition challenged six Oregon bartenders to create their own signature drinks in a two-round competition utilizing Oregon-crafted spirits all in a benefit for Schoolhouse Supplies, a school supply store that offers free educational materials for Portland-area teachers.
The chosen mixologists: Bradley Dawson, Belly Timber; Sue Erickson, Ping; Kinn Edwards, Aqua (Corvallis); Evan Zimmerman, Laurelhurst Market, Jacob Grier, Carlyle; and Alison Dykes, Lincoln had one week to develop two cocktails, each made with a specific Oregon spirit. The cocktails would be judged in two rounds by all attendees in the categories of presentation, taste, aroma, and originality.
The bar stools were full and the restaurant's booths fashioned eager attendees waiting to sip our three-ounce samples of each creation. All situated behind the bar's counter, the bartenders appeared to be a team of one as they all pitched in and assisted one another prepping pours and passing out libations of each cocktail one by one.
A few of the competitors awaiting Round 1
The evening's featured Oregon spirits
The featured spirits of the evening (not necessarily in this order):
Suake River Stampede
And the evening continued on in that fashion. As we continued to sip samples (which seemed to grow larger than three ounces by night's end) and enjoy Hobnob nibbles, the conversations grew, laughs became more prominent, and all in attendance appeared to enjoy a fun night for a great cause.
I must say I was blown away to see some labels that I had previously never seen. It was a fun exploration into Oregon spirits that truly brought home the fact that Portland (and Oregon in general) is not only a mecca for fabulous food, but also an incredibly viable player in the boxing ring of delectable spirits.
A few more pics from the night, including the winners!
Bradley Dawson explains his first concoction to the crowd:
the Strawpocolypse Balsamic Redux made with Elemental Vodka
Sue Erickson introduces her Sunshine in My Soul
(and that's exactly what it tasted like!)
Made with Martin Ryan Vodka
Jacob Grier describes his Vigallager made with Organic Nation Gin
Round 1 cocktails on display
The night's Third Place Winner!: Bradley Dawson
Second Place!: Evan Zimmerman
And First Place went to...
Jacob Grier of Carlyle
All bartenders in a perfect end to the competition, the celebratory toast.
Fun night for an excellent cause.