Spirits of the Season 2013: Portland, Oregon's Volstead Vodka shames the Russians, recipes

Spirits of the Season 2013 will bring you the hottest new recipes, spirits and wines from the coolest distilleries, vineyards, restaurants and bars from all across the globe!

We have already established that House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Oregon turns out AMAZING artisan Aviation Gin (97 points from the Wine Spectator people!), and they have given me my childhood memories back with the fragrant fabulous Krogstad Festlig Aquavit - which you cannot pronounce or spell at all after you sink a few. It's the Benedict Cumberbatch of the booze world. With Viking horns.

But did you know about their Volstead Vodka™?

This elegant bottle with a nifty label was the 2013 Gold medal winner at the 2013 SF World Spirits Competition! These Oregonians don't play when it comes to quality. Volstead Vodka is filtered for 96 hours through charred coconut husks (!). At 84 proof, Volstead is naturally gluten free and handcrafted using 100% non-GMO neutral grain spirits, pure Cascade mountain water and a deep respect for the cocktail making experience. 

The Portlandians have tongue firmly in cheek as the name is a tip of the hat to Andrew Volstead, father of Prohibition, a GOP congressman from Minnesota who was America's biggest historical party pooper. 

The taste of vodka is often times nebulously described like those pretentious descriptions that people who review wine for a living dole out, like "this Pinot is elegant and has an oak-y finish with hints of dark chocolate, citrus and lingonberries."

Good vodka is a virtually tasteless and colorless spirit that does not bite. Bad vodka can ignite and take the varnish off a table. Vodka made from good water should be tasty and "pop" the flavor of anything that's mixed with it.  It should be very cold and clean and taste lovely neat. Volstead Vodka is made with that crystal clear Cascade Mountain water and it is very good by itself cold or mixed.

One of these days I hope to report directly from the trenches the distillery itself, as the House Spirits Tasting Room offers a chance to sample all their spirits and browse their barware, books and apparel and ask all sorts of questions relating to the vast world of distilled spirits. Like how to remember to spell and say "Krogstad Festlig Aquavit" after a few Aviation Gin drinks. 

Plus, it's in Portland! Home of the Pearl district with Powell's Books, Mother's restaurant, Voodoo donuts, plus "Grimm" and "Portlandia" are both shot there, so you might be able to graze (just say you're an extra) on a craft service table along the gorgeous Willamette River!

For both out-of-town visitors and Portland locals, a House Spirits Tasting Room visit will give you a unique opportunity to experience part of Oregon’s dynamic artisan community AND buy their spirits too.

Tasting Room Hours

Wednesday – Saturday 12PM – 6PM Sunday 12PM – 5PM


Here are some amazing recipes for the Holiday parties coming up:

Portland Vesper Ingredients

1 1/2 oz Volstead Vodka    

1 oz Aviation Gin    

1/2 oz Imbue Petal and Thorn Vermouth


In a pint glass, add spirits and mixers.     Fill with ice and stir.     Strain into a chilled martini glass.     Garnish with a lemon twist.

Vin De Pamplemousse Ingredients

1 1/2 oz Volstead Vodka    

1/4 oz Sauvignon Blanc    

3/4 oz Grapefruit juice    

1/2 oz Lemon juice    

1/2 oz Vanilla syrup


In a pint glass, add spirits and mixers.     Add ice and shake vigorously.     Fine strain into a double rocks glass over fresh ice.     Garnish with a grapefruit half moon.

Volstead Apple Sling Ingredients

1 1/2 oz Volstead Vodka    

1 oz Cloudy apple cider    

3/4 oz Fresh lime juice    

1/4 oz Pomegranate syrup (grenadine) 1:1 POM:sugar    

1 oz Ginger beer


In a highball glass, add spirits and mixers (except for ginger beer) over crushed or chipped ice.     Stir with a barspoon.     Top with ginger beer.     Garnish with a lime wedge.

Cucumber Mint Collins Ingredients

1 1/2 oz Volstead Vodka    

3/4 oz Fresh lemon juice    

1/2 oz Simple syrup    

2 Cucumber slices    

4 Mint leaves    

Soda water

In a pint glass, gently muddle cucumber and mint leaves.     Add spirits and mixers. Shake vigorously.     Fine strain over fresh ice into a highball glass.     Top with soda water.     Garnish with a mint tip.

Further Reading on M&C