More drinking in Portland! The day after our visit to Clyde Common, we embarked on a marathon of even more cocktailing, starting it off with a fascinating and informative tasting at Clear Creek Distillery. I'd had their fabulously bone-dry Kirschwasser at the Good Fork in Red Hook, and their Douglas Fir eau-de-vie at Pegu Club in Audrey Saunders' diabolically inventive Douglas Fir Gimlet. Due to what is apparently a recent change in the law (the Clear Creek "passport" in which you're encouraged to mark your tasting choices carries an appropriately snarky legend), each person can only taste five products. Fortunately, we were two, so we could taste ten of Clear Creek's 25 products between us. Retail manager Jeanine Koszalka took us through the lineup and dropped some serious knowledge on us.
Clear Creek specializes in eaux-de-vie: clear brandies made from fruit other than grapes. And, they really do a fantastic job of cramming what feels like an orchard's worth of fruit into a bottle. (Not kidding here: apparently a bottle of their pear brandy takes thirty pounds of pears to make.) All their fruit is from Oregon, so it's an intensely local product as well. When we visited, the distillery was especially excited about their blue plum brandy (aka slivovitz), which was recently certified as kosher. They'd had lots of requests for a kosher spirit, and it wasn't too much of a change in their operations. (Normally, they use the "heads" -- the undrinkable first part of a distilling run -- for cleaning, but this wasn't kosher. They had a rabbi ritually clean the fermentation tanks with a torch and an ash wash.) The distillery plans to expand its kosher line with future bottlings.
The first thing we tasted was probably Clear Creek's best-known product, its Pear Brandy.