There’s something very DIY about Portland, in that make do with what you got sort of way. We make use of everything, throw nothing out, and if we can share it or trade it, we do. Drink local is like that, too. Reach for the bottles you have, use the ingredients made near you and come up with something rad.
Some may remember the Satyricon as one of Portland’s staple nightclubs, a punk rock club and one of the best. Yes, it was in Old Town Chinatown at a time when there was a vibe about the neighborhood, but what better place for it? It was a room, and some pretty great bands played the room. Now it’s legend, and they used to have poetry slams there, because punk rock and poetry go together like Kurt and Courtney. He was in a band that played there, and she read poetry on open mic nights.
Poetry slams are all very DIY or die, and so is punk rock. Oh, poetry you say? Yeah, spend some time with the work of Maggie Estep. Check out Charles Bukowski. Or read Howl. All of it. Out loud. Sure, it’s all edgy and underside, it’s all punk, or beat, or label it as you will, but at the heart of it, in that neighborhood, whatever it may be, dangerous or not, affordable and damp, is the hope of self liberation, the realization that you live in a really great place, and everything around you can change because you said so, and you got off your ass and filled a pothole when all the sold out power mongers wanted only to take away your bricks and put you in jail.
What says, or said, Portland more than the Satyricon? Is there anything left of it? Who knows. Rumors of parts and pieces, sure, but it’s gone. The DIY or die spirit remains, though. There’s always something happening, people just like making things, and that will never change, like when you find some old wine barrels, and, instead of throwing them out, you put some liquor in them, but not just any liquor, no, an esoteric and unique liquor like aquavit because no one else has done that yet, and wouldn’t it be so cool to try?
Regnig Dag Aquavit from Bull Run Distillery is like that. It’s aquavit, all right, with all the caraway you want, plus a hint of age from the salvaged pinot noir barrels. Maybe the 6 month rest in the winey oak makes it mellow, softens the edge, or maybe it’s the skilled hand behind it. In any case, get a glass and surround yourself with friends. Aquavit should be a social drink, and a local aquavit should be a local drink. DIY or die.
So what happens when you treat Regnig Dag like rye? Rye is spicy, and so is aquavit, just in a different way. The barrel helps. No, aquavit is more a side step from gin, but, what if? We have vermouth. Ransom makes a wonderful sweet vermouth that’s a bit of a chameleon. Yes, you can use it where you’d use Antica Formula, but it’s not the same kind of hammer. You can use it in places you also expect it to behave, like an astute child who knows when to show off, and when to sit quietly. So mix it with the aquavit, and realize that aquavit isn’t rye. It’s not at all.
Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit, just like another popular Scandinavian spirit, Cherry Heering. Yep, the delicious alternative to maraschino that calls to mind what should be a handful of Oregon cherries. We’re in luck. Clear Creek makes a superior and perfectly serviceable cherry liquor with as many cherries as they can gather. Let’s admit that cherries and whiskey just go together, and so does cherry liqueur and aquavit, but who knew they would work so well together. Now the idea for mixing cherry and aquavit comes to us from an old article in Esquire magazine, but we’ll take it. DIY or die.
The Bitter Housewife makes some aromatic bitters. RAFT aromatic bitters are perfect for a Satyricon, but you could totally make your own. We won’t stop you if you do, in fact, we make many of our own bitters, especially the ones we can’t readily buy, but, in our Satyricon, we’re going with RAFT. In either case, we have an entirely local cocktail that tastes like nothing else. What does it taste like? Light rye bread, the kind with the caraway seeds in it, and spiced jam. It’s a warming treat on a cold day, and a celebration of cherry blossoms in the spring. It’s cast off barrels reimagined, liqueur made from local ingredients, and a vermouth made from amazing Oregon wine. Heck, regnig dag even means “rainy day,” and we get a few of those every year, so next time you’re in the mood to listen to Wipers, pour a Satyricon, and revisit some old memories. Otherwise, go to Dantes and write about it in 20 years.
2 oz Regnig Dag Aquavit
3/4 oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Clear Creek Cherry Liqueur
1 dash RAFT Aromatic Bitters
Stir with ice, and serve up. Garnish with local brandied or maraschino cherries.
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