Huckleberry Vodka

A few months ago, when our woods were exploding with huckleberries, we decided to use some of our bounty to infuse vodka. We prepared our mixture, poured it into mason jars and let it sit in our garage for two months. Yesterday was the opening of our concoction. We didn’t make much, not being sure how it would turn out, but it’s pretty darn tasty so next year we will be making more!

Here’s our recipe, which can easily be adapted to your own tastes:

Unflavored Vodka (the only way it came when I was growing up!)

Fresh huckleberries (we use evergreen, as that’s what grows in our yard but wild mountain huckleberries would be even better)

Several slices or chunks of crystallized ginger

Local honey

Dried Valencia orange peel (although fresh would be delightful as well)

Quart mason jars

Add one generous cup of berries to each mason jar. Fill 3/4 with vodka. Add two to three tablespoons of honey and a few dashes of orange peel per jar. Drop one or two good-sized slices of the ginger in each jar (we used one this year; will probably add more to half of them next year). Seal jars and keep in cool, dark place for at least one month. When ready, shake well and strain into decorative containers.


The resulting color is beautiful, and the vodka tastes fine on its own (keep it in the freezer for best taste). It also makes a good mixer with juice, as it’s not too sweet. Here are a few suggestions:

Serve over ice with lemonade and a dash of gingerale.

Use in a vodka martini, mixed with cranberry or a cranberry mix juice and ginger syrup–shaken, not stirred.


Crater Lake Spirits

Several months ago, I finally got to visit Bend Distillery with my husband and my best friend. We had a great time, as I knew we would (definitely worth stopping by if you are in the Bend area). Since then, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out the perfect drink using one of their Crater Lake Vodkas for our Drink of the Month (yes, I know I am behind on that!). While there are many, many delicious concoctions that one could come up with using these delightful vodkas, I have come to the conclusion that the very best way to drink them is chilled and straight up!


I grew up in a time when vodka was vodka-flavored, so sometimes all of these choices are overwhelming. Vodka was a great mixer because it really didn’t have much of a strong taste on its own. But now, there is just about every flavor imaginable. Most however, taste like vodka with flavor added. Some are really good. Some are not. But I haven’t found one yet that can touch the Crater Lake series for amazing flavor. Crater Lake Vodkas taste like the essence of the infusion. The Espresso Hazelnut doesn’t taste like vodka with coffee–it tastes like an amazing Hazelnut Espresso with a kick. The Sweet Ginger is to die for if you like ginger in any form (as I do!). I think it tastes like pure Aloha. It tastes great with all kinds of mixers. It tastes better poured ice-cold into our surf board shot glass. I should add that I have never been a fan of straight shots. Now I am!

The only ones I would mix are the pepper vodkas, but that’s just because I am a wimp when it comes to peppers. Not my husband and daughter! Just like the other vodkas, the peppers in these hit you right off the bat. Fantastic in a Bloody Mary (which I also don’t care for, unless you use Crater Lake Vodka!). Surprisingly good mixed with grapefruit juice (who would have thought???). If you like spicy, lovely on its own–again chilled and in a south-of-the-border style shot glass.

Here’s a little bonus if you fly Alaska Airlines–they serve the Espresso Hazelnut on their flights! In fact, that is where I first heard of Crater Lake Vodkas. So happy I did!!!


The Honeyed Ox

Today seems like a perfect day to share with you another hot whiskey drink. It’s cold and very, very wet here in the Northwest. Real whiskey aficionados will probably cringe at my constant mixing of whiskey drinks, preferring instead to drink it neat (my husband’s preference!), but I’m a whiskey wimp. At least this one is pretty simple. It makes a lovely night cap, and it tastes like apple pie!

We have been using Blue Ox Blended Whiskey from OOLA Distillery in Seattle, hence the name Honeyed Ox. OOLA produces this private label whiskey exclusively for Alderbrook Resort in Union, Washington. It was launched on Alderbrook’s New Year’s Eve Bootleggers Haul aboard the Lady Alderbrook to help celebrate a little Hood Canal history. It is now available at the Resort, for enjoyment on the grounds or to purchase in the gift shop. Blue Ox is a blended whiskey, combining Canadian Whiskey, Highland Scotch, and American Bourbon. You can learn more about Blue Ox and its inspiration at a special Whiskey Dinner at Alderbrook on March 10. (Wish we were going but we splurged and went on the Bootlegger’s Cruise!)

For my little drink, I pour one shot (or two!) of Blue Ox in a small mug, add one to two teaspoons of good, raw, local honey, and a dash of cinnamon. Add hot water to fill a small mug or half a regular coffee mug. Adjust to your own taste. It smells wonderful, tastes good, and is very relaxing. Sit back and enjoy!


                                                         Blue Ox neat, the way Jim likes it!

Hot Buttered Bourbon

Given our motto of sometimes needing to crack that bottle, a drink of the month page seems appropriate. We make no claims to originality with these drinks–they are simply some of our favorites, using beverages from several of our local distilleries, breweries, and cideries (all abundant in the NW!).

With February being smack in the middle of winter, we’ll go with a hot drink to start you off. Warning–this is full of calories, but it can easily substitute for dessert!

Hot Buttered Bourbon

Mix 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon butter (REAL butter), and 1 to 2 tablespoons good vanilla ice cream in a mug with one shot of Heritage Distilling Company’s BSB (Brown Sugar Bourbon). Add hot water to fill mug and mix well. A dash of cinnamon or nutmeg on top doesn’t hurt. If you really like gilding the lily, you can add a dollop of whipped cream, but we haven’t gone that far yet! Perfect on a cold winter night, especially if you’ve been out in the elements all day. Enjoy!


A bit about this month’s distillery:

Heritage Distilling Company

We were living in Gig Harbor when Heritage opened their first shop. They have grown quickly, and with good reason. We frequent the waterfront store (there is another main GH location and one in Eugene, OR), where they have tastings, a great selection of flavored (or Sea Hawk themed) vodka, gin, and whiskey, a cask club that allows you to customize your own whiskey, and, maybe best of all–growlers for liquor! While I don’t possess vast knowledge on the subject of growlers, so far, I have only seen them available for beer. Heritage generally has six liquors on tap for the growlers (four flavored vodkas and two whiskeys last time we were there). They also have a Spirit Advent calendar, which I think is a wonderful idea. It may be too late for the holidays this year, but there’s always next year!