Mike Selberg was born in Portland, Oregon and spent his young life bouncing around the Northwest and Colorado.  He spent every summer in Cannon Beach, so it was no surprise that he made it his permanent residence a few days after graduating High School.

Mike attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA where he studied everything from Music to Psychology to Art History, before finally landing in the Natural Sciences. Biology and Chemistry allowed him the opportunity to learn with his hands in Lab classes.

“There was something about starting with an ingredient or compound and manipulating it into something completely different that was intriguing and fun.”

Mike was introduced to home brewing by his college friends, and continued making beer as a hobby years after he graduated. This foundation in the natural sciences along with experience with fermentation coalesced when Mike and Larry Peters Sr., a friend and regular at the bar he worked at, started discussing what it would take to manufacture Gin. download

“I learned that many, if not most, distilleries did not conduct every step of production to manufacture their spirits. There was a lot of purchasing and blending going on. I couldn’t imagine letting go of any aspect of the process.  There are so many steps to creating a spirit, and each can be manipulated in a host of different ways. I wanted my spirits to be uniquely my own. I wanted to make something that no one had ever tasted before, and the only way to do that was to control as much of the process as I could. There is so much room for experimentation in this industry, it seemed crazy that more distilleries weren’t crafting new styles or new categories of spirits every day.”

In November of 2011, Mike registered Cannon Beach Distillery with the State of Oregon, and on July 1st 2012, he opened the doors to the tasting room. To this day, Mike distills every drop himself.

“My spirits are constantly being refined. I don’t ever want to make the exact same spirit twice. I want to make every batch better than the last. That’s why we put a batch number on every bottle. Every spirit has an extremely complex composition. Minor changes in single aspect of the production can have a significant effect on the final character. It can always be better. The composition can always be more harmonious. I have a ton to learn, but I take pride in everything that has come out of here. It’s my hope that my spirits speak for themselves.”

(To order Cannon Beach spirits go to CraftedLife.com)

Dorymen’s Rum (80 proof) distilled from evaporated cane juice sugar

Visual: Clear.
Nose: A slight funkiness of wet fur that usually is found in cane sugar based rums.  Rustic, earthy and engaging.
Taste: Clean, bright and spicy. Very intense and tightly formed. Only slightly sweet. A well-rounded cane spirit.
Finish: Medium long with a smooth fade.
Overall: This is akin to the original Cuban rums that you might have found at the beginning of the 20th century. Surprising body and character that Hemingway himself would have enjoyed.
GSN Rating: A-

Donlon Shanks Rum (80 proof) distilled from molasses
Visual: Deep gold.
Nose: Some spice on the nose, deep earthen notes topped with sharp oakiness.  Slight brine.
Taste: Mild char, with a smooth entry.  After a few seconds, some sweetness creeps in tempered with oak.  a full-bodied rum that again has a rustic sensibility and will work exceptionally well in Tiki style drinks.
Finish: Medium long with burnt sugar and caramel closing the curtain.
Overall: A spirit in the style of some South American rums.  Bold, masculine and wood forward.  Great for mixing.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Cannon Beach Distillery

1610834_10152862980905943_61540934822568108_nThe Pisco Sour has been around for nearly 100 years now, but you still rarely see it on cocktail menus outside of metropolitan cities.  Hailing from Lima, Peru, it was created by Victor Morris an ex-patriot American.  Designed as a South American spin on the Whiskey Sour, it became an instant hit.  Originally a simple mix of pisco, simple syrup and lime juice, by 1924 the recipe included the key addition of egg white topped with aromatic bitters.  Sadly, only five years later Morris declared bankruptcy and soon passed from cirrhosis of the liver.  Perhaps too much of a good thing.

If you want the total authentic experience, make sure to use Amargo Chuncho bitters which are made in Peru.

Pisco Sour
1.5oz Peruvian pisco (Porton, Barsol or Encanto are good brands)
0.75oz fresh lemon juice
1oz simple syrup
1 small egg white
Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Cocktail Bitters (use Angostura bitters in a pinch)Combine pisco, juice, syrup and egg white in a shaker; and shake vigorously without ice. Add ice, shake well again and strain neat. Place a few drops of bitters on top of the foam.

brandy-alexander-290x290Sure, we’ve all had at least one Brandy Alexander in our lifetimes.  But rarely does anyone wonder who the eponymous Alexander was.  My good friend Gary ‘gaz” Regan wrote about the origins of this dessert-like concotion a few years ago.  Here’s what he discovered.

“One of the earliest known printed recipes for the Alexander can be found in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. The cocktail, according to historian Barry Popik, was likely born at Rector’s, New York’s premier pre-Prohibition lobster palace. The bartender there, a certain Troy Alexander, created his eponymous concoction in order to serve a white drink at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow.

Phoebe Snow, I should explain, was a fictitious character used in an advertising campaign for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The company wanted to get the message across that it powered its locomotives with anthracite, a clean-burning variety of coal. The ads emphasized this by showing Ms. Snow traveling while wearing a snow-white dress.

Getting back to the Brandy Alexander, I should note that it was first known as the Alexander #2. Want to know the secret to making the drink? Go heavy on the brandy and light on the sweet stuff. My recipe is a decent jumping-off point; you can play with it to make it your own. Try the original gin-based Alexander, too.  It’s a mighty fine drink.”

Here’s gaz’s recipe:

Brandy Alexander
2 oz Cognac or other fine aged brandy
1 oz Dark crème de cacao
1 oz Cream
Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg
Glass: Cocktail

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-9-14-37-amApollo Beverages, an Ohio-based business started by beverage alcohol industry veteran Troy Woodrow, launched a new line of Bourbon Cream liqueurs under the Woody’s Northwoods brand this past August. “We feel the combination of Bourbon and some of the fastest growing flavors in the beverage alcohol category creates a winning combination for the Woody’s brand” said Woodrow, who has been involved in some of the most successful new product launches in the cream liqueur category.

Original (27 proof) A lighter texture and viscosity than most cream liqueurs, and also an oddly soapy flavor. Or is it bubblegum?  No clear indication of what the unusual flavor is, but despite the weirdness, the overall flavor is decent with warming bourbon, fair natural sweetness and decent creaminess. GSN Rating: C+

Honey (27 proof) A honey character doesn’t really present itself, but does manage to transform that unusual flavor in the Original into something more resembling strawberries with a honeyed glaze towards the finish.  You got me.  Again, though, it still works as a liqueur and I do like this one better. GSN Rating: B

Maple (27 proof) The best of the bunch. Definite maple flavor and no unusual off flavors. This is like breakfast in a glass. A bourbon cream that has enough oomph and sass to stand out from the crowd.  Very nice and a nice change to the cream liqueur community. GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Enjoy Woodys

For the first time ever, the brewers at Sam Adams have reformulated one of its popular flagship beers, Rebel IPA.

After months of experimenting with trial batches, and taking advantage of newly cultivated hops and those that were not readily available when Rebel was first introduced in 2014, Rebel IPA now has a more intense juicy, tropical and citrus flavor supported by a leaner body and a crisp, clean finish.

The original Rebel IPA was brewed with Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe and Chinook hops – for the 2017 release, our brewers added Mosaic hops together with HBC 566, a new hop proprietary to Sam Adams, and HBC 682, a new, experimental bittering hop. The caramel malt has also been removed, resulting in a cleaner, brighter IPA with more tropical, citrus and pine-forward notes.

And if the reformulation of Rebel IPA wasn’t enough, Rebel Juiced IPA, which was introduced in October on draft, is now available in cans and bottles. A West Coast IPA infused with mango, Rebel Juiced is a medium-bodied beer with a slightly veiled golden color that brings a big tropical aroma of guava, passion fruit and mango. The tropical hop aroma gives way to a juicy, fruity flavor with a hint of sweetness, followed up by a clean, citrusy finish.

download-1Rebel IPA: Sam Adams
Aroma: Low malt profile backed by a sweet hop character.
Flavor: A blend of hops that impart bitterness and a slight dryness to balance out the malt presence. No noticeable unique hop character.
Hops: Slight pine.
Malt: Fair amount of malt to make it full bodied.
Color: Amber
Body: Medium.
Mouthfeel: Balanced with nothing notable standing out.
Carbonation: Perfect carbonation.
Head/Lacing: Thin head with light scattered circular lacing.
Rating: 3.5/5

downloadRebel Juiced IPA: Sam Adams
Aroma: Strong sense of citrus with a bit of sweetness lingering through the hops.
Flavor: Fairly subdued fruit character which works well. More citrus than mango, but both are noticeable. Hoppy, but not nearly as dry or bitter as other brews go. Fairly balanced overall with enough malt to bring the bitterness down.
Hops: Fruity and bitter.
Malt: Just the very slighted bit of roasted character hiding beneath the bitterness.
Color: Amber
Body: Medium bodied.
Head/Lacing: Foamy rich head with scattered lacing.
Mouthfeel: Easy drinking with a small bite to it.
Carbonation: Perfectly carbonated.
Rating: 4/5

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew

jacyara-de-oliveira-winner3Food and Wine recently published an article on the Best Cocktail Bars in the U.S. Among those listed were several Seattle favorites: Good Bar, Rob Roy, Tavern Law, and Canon. The Emerald City has long been a center of culinary culture, but a recent influx of hipster nerds and edgy tech geeks has brought a new demand for ‘classy alcohol’, putting a larger focus on the local offerings.

I had the opportunity to visit one of these bars after a long day at work last week, and imbibe in a drink created by none other than Speed Rack Northwest champion, Jacyara de Oliveira. After her decisive victory in the regional competition, I followed up with her to ask a few questions about bartending, booze, and boobs (proceeds from Speed Rack’s events are donated to Breast Cancer charities around the world).

image3To begin with, Jacyara is a relative newcomer to the Pacific Northwest. Her origins lie in Chicago, IL where she started bartending about six years ago. Starting off as a bar-back, her introduction to the restaurant and bar industry came through her brother, who also works in the business. She quickly worked her way to the front of the bar, before entering Speed Rack’s first national competition in the Windy City. Though she did not make the finals that year, she won Miss Speed Rack Chicago in the fourth national tour in 2015, and made top 8 for five consecutive years.

image1When asked about her pre-competition warm-up routine, Jacyara explained that she and several other contestants would practice speed trials together, offering each other tips and planning out bar top layouts for optimum speed-shaking. The camaraderie among the contestants translated well to the stage on Sunday, January 8, with plenty of hugs and high-fives to go around. Only the top 8 out of 21 women made it to the regional event earlier this month.

According to Jacyara, the most challenging part of participating in a cocktail speed contest is getting the drink to come out balanced. “The simpler the drink, the harder it is [to get right].” She explained that drinks such as a martini or sazerac need to be stirred longer to get the right distribution of flavor; this essential step can get cut short when racing against the clock. Other drinks, such as daiquiris, can quickly become too diluted when shaken with too much force, and require a lot of attention.


Yes Queen!

Aside from her love of mixology, Jacyara also feels strongly about the driver behind Speed Rack: Breast Cancer awareness and donations to charities. Breast cancer has affected her family on her mother’s side, giving her a personal interest in the cause, but she also shakes to support the many survivors she has met through the competition. As she said, “Cancer touches everybody.”

So how did she end up in Seattle? After taking a cross-country bike tour, from New York to Seattle, she decided to toss in her chips and move to the West Coast. A connection to Chris Elford (Canon) and Anu Elford (owner of Rob Roy), opened the door to the local cocktail scene, and Jacyara wasted no time jumping in head-first; she debuted her own cocktail creation, the ‘Yes Queen!’, at Rob Roy this past year. Described as “martini-like” by the creator, the drink is incredibly smooth and light on the tongue, accented by hints of honey, banana liqueur, and absinthe. Citrus-forward on the nose, the only way I can describe the flavor is “the aftertaste of the best frozen chocolate banana you’ve ever had.”

When she’s not on the job, Jacyara enjoys anything from a frozen daiquiri to a dark rum old fashioned; it just “depends on the situation.”

Jacyara represents Seattle and the Northwest region in the national finals in New York ‪on May 21, 2017.

Article by Noel Frodelius-Fujimoto, GSN’s west coast correspondent


Jameson Irish CoffeeAlthough we’re celebrating National Irish Coffee Day today, the actual date of its arrival on our shores was on 11/10/52.  It was imported from Ireland to San Francisco via Stanton Delaplane who first had a taste of it at Shannon Airport.  The creator was Chef Joe Sheridan.

Here is Sheridan’s original recipe.  “Cream as rich as an Irish brogue; coffee as strong as a friendly hand; sugar sweet as the tongue of a rogue; and whiskey smooth as the wit of the land.”

In case that is too vague, here are some recommendations for you.  Use a heavy whipping cream, all the better if it comes from grass-fed cows.  The coffee should be French Press pot using a Full-City or Vienna roast.  I prefer to use Demerara sugar cubes, and the whiskey should be Jameson’s or Powers.

Dale DeGroff also has this to say: “Never use canned cream in an Irish Coffee. Whip your own cream without sugar by placing a stainless steel bowl or pitcher in the fridge until it is very cold . Start with very cold heavy cream and whisk or whip to just under stiff so the cream has no bubbles and will still pour slowly. Always sweeten the coffee using brown sugar or brown sugar syrup. Finally don’t drown the drink in coffee, about 4 ounces is all you need. Try to find the classic stemmed Irish Coffee glasses, because of their size they will force you to use the right amount of coffee. Those are the tricks we use in the business to make drinks bartender proof.”

Irish Coffee
1 1/2 oz. Jamesons Irish Whiskey
1 oz. Brown Sugar Syrup
Lightly Whipped Unsweetened Cream

Combine Whiskey, coffee and syrup in an Irish coffee glass. Ladle one inch of cream on top.

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