Nightcaps: The Darling Nikki

Baileys Cherry CafeWhen I was a young bartender in Philadelphia I consumed a lot of whiskey coupled  with high alcohol beer, mainly Belgian. This is not a lifestyle choice I necessarily recommend. One problem with it is that can unleash vicious heartburn and induce an overall feeling of malaise. When the burning starts and the thought of another beer stirs the seas of your stomach acids, there are two options–one is to call it a night. There is nothing wrong with this option. Go home and snuggle with the cat. It’s good for the soul. The other option is to muscle on through the burn.

Enter the Darling Nikki, known to relieve tension from the tense and tame the savage beast. This cocktail is a sleeper. It tastes a bit like a milkshake and goes down easily, soothing the burn along the way. But pay heed, the Nikki will leave you in that hotel room the next morning wondering what the hell happened and why your pants are on the windowsill.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey *
1 1 oz Bailey’s Irish Whiskey
1 1/2 oz Amaretto (don’t bother with the fancy stuff, the house works well)
Rim glass with cinnamon sugar

Pour into ice filled shaker. Shake hard (feel the frost build on the shaker and your bicep burn). Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a cherry.

This cocktail may raise a judgmental eyebrow, because of its girlish nature  but trust me she will give you a funky time, every thing that money can buy.

*If whiskey isn’t your think, sub Stoli for a Darling Nikita 😉 Thanks Cheri

Portland Distiller’s Row

New Deal Vodka Line

(c) New Deal Distillery

The craft distillery scene in Portland is so massive that it even has its own guild, started with seed money from the state of Oregon. For me, having come from a Pennsylvania, a state (er, Commonwealth), with  punitive liquor laws, to see Portland’s magical guild of micro-distilleries and state-funded togetherness threw me for a loop. Really? The state is helping someone sell booze and treating the distilling process as an art? Not the liquor control board I know.

Oregon isn’t the only state with guilds for artisinal distillers, but they certainly appear to be the best organized and most articulate about their mission–to bring their craft liquor to as many people as possible. Their branding is hip, well-considered and well-placed, which gives them a craft edge with the brand credibility of a major.

What strikes me as uniquely Portland about the distillers and their guild is their willingness to work as a collective of companies even though they have potentially competing products. The global liquor conglomerates don’t usually do this. They tend to have one line each of whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila and maybe a few bourbons or different price point lines of one spirit.

It’s an industry with cutthroat competition at its very core (think of the fact that the prohibition era incubated organized crime as we know it). However, this ragtag group of distillers all just want to get along, bonding over their passion for the craft. OK, it might not be as touchy-feely as all that. In working together, the distillers hope to get bulk buying power, more visibility and the ability to reach a broader customer base.

This is a smart move. The aforementioned global conglomerates all have ginormous operating and marketing budgets and can take out consecutive ads on the back of Rolling Stone (not cheap).In reality, as individual brands, these micro-distillers (or at least the best of them) may as well roll over to Beam Global now and all of the craft will go out of the relationship.

This brave new world of spirits leaves me with a challenge. I have to try them all! How? It will be a job of work but I will muscle through it.