Winter Solstice Cocktail Recipe by Karen Locke - High Proof PDX

It is pretty typical around the holidays to have a cookie swap, so I thought- Why not have a Cocktail recipe swap? I've reached out to some of the best and brightest cookies in Portland to share some delicious winter cocktails with you! If you haven't decided what to get the at-home bartender in your life, check out my 7 Gadgets for at Home Craft Cocktails here!

The first in this series comes to us from Karen Locke from High Proof PDX

Winter Solstice

This wintertime cocktail combines citrus, tart cardamom and tangerine with a hint of anise from fresh tarragon. 


2 oz Volstead Vodka
1/2 oz Cardamom & Tangerine Pok Pok Som drinking vinegar
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
4-5 dashes The Bitter Housewife Grapefruit bitters
4 sprigs tarragon


Muddle 2-3 tarragon sprigs in cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Add remaining ingredients. Shake well and strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with remaining tarragon.

Photo provided by Karen Locke

Photo provided by Karen Locke

Photo provided by Karen Locke

Photo provided by Karen Locke

Want more great cocktails from the Recipe Swap? Check out my Ode to the Sweet Potato Casserole on High Proof PDX's Blog!

provided by Karen Locke

provided by Karen Locke


Karen Locke is a Portland-based food and drink writer who has written for various publications: Thrillist, Tales of the Cocktail, Sip Northwest, Drink Portland, and more. In addition to dimly lit bars, she has spent quite a bit of time in distilleries while writing “High-Proof PDX,” a guidebook to Portland distilleries (Fall 2017, Overcup Press). Before living in Portland, Karen resided in Minneapolis where she tended bar and served a lot of Thai Food.

4 Important Tips when Shopping for Scotch Whisky

by : Scotch Served Neat for

Here are 4 important tips to help you on your next Scotch Shopping Spree. After this article you will know how to Choose your style, pick a region, recognize finishing details for the product, and understand some whisky pricing factors. What matters? Style. Region. Finishing. Budget


  1. Choose Single Malt or Blend    First and foremost when shopping for Scotch the most important factor to understand is all Scotch whisky must be made in Scotland, but not all whisky is Scotch. Secondly, ask yourself what am I looking for?  “Single-Malt Scotch’ or “Blended Scotch”?  A Single-malt Scotch is distilled and aged using whisky from one single distillery in Scotland such as Maccallan, Lagavulin or Glenmorangie. A Blended Scotch such as Johnnie Walker, Chivas and Dewar’s is a blend of 2 or more scotches sourced from several different distilleries. A simple example would be that Johnnie Walker Green Label is a 15-year-old blend of Talisker, Caoila, Linkwood and Cragganmore, which are all single-malt scotches.



2. Zone in on a Region: Scotch is broken down into 5 main regions, each having their own distinct flavor characteristics. An important question to ask yourself is, what flavor profile am I looking for? Do I want an extremely smoky, peaty scotch OR do I want a sweeter, floral, light scotch?


  • The SPEYSIDE region is known to produce the most complex and rich scotches accounting for roughly half of all operating distilleries in Scotland.

  • The HIGHLANDS region is known as the largest area and produces light and fruity scotches in the south and spicy, complex, and full-bodied scotches in the North, closest to Speyside.

  • In the LOWLANDS region there are only 3 operating distilleries (Auchentoshan, Bladnoch and Glenkinchie). The whiskies produced in the lowlands are typically known as the lightest of all the single malt scotches.

  • The ISLANDS region produces scotches such as TALISKER and HIGHLAND PARK, which tend to be a transitional flavor profile that bridges the gap between Highland and Islay regions.

  • Last but definitely not least is Scotch from the Isle of ISLAY (pronounced eye-luh). Scotches from the Islay region such as ARDBEG, LAPHROAIG or LAGAVULIN are known for their strong, complex and peaty flavor profile. Scotches from Islay are very peaty and smoky due to factors such as the surrounding rough seas, temperatures and the amount of peat contained in Islay soil.


3. Finishing Details: When shopping for a scotch you can look at which type of cask or barrels the scotch is aged in. Today, distilleries are becoming very creative with the type of barrels they use, but before we dive into these topics let it be known unlike most American whiskies, Scotch can be aged in used barrels. Often times you will see single malts aged in used American bourbon or Tennessee whiskey such as Jack Daniels or Bulleit Bourbon. For example, Glenmorangie 10 year old is aged ex-bourbon barrels. Other brands such as Macallan age their scotch in ex-sherry wine barrels, which will give the scotch a sweeter taste profile. All scotch labels will list exactly which barrels their scotch is aged in.



4. Decide on a budget: Finally we approach a very important factor that plays a huge part in deciding the best scotch for you. The price of your scotch, which is impacted the most by the length of aging, which ties in with the scarcity of the product.. In Scotch, the age on the label is referring to the youngest drop in the bottle (rum age statements are complete opposite in that the age states the oldest drop in the bottle, but thats another blog post in itself). A perfect example of aging is The Macallan or Glenfiddich lines which offer 10 to30 years and up. You will recognize a significant difference in price from a 10 year old and a 30 year old scotch. Cheers and remember, it is acceptable to be promiscuous with your whiskies.

SCOTCH SERVED NEAT is a New York Based Whisky, Wine, and Cigar enthusiast,  you can find him on Instagram @scotchservedneat, Twitter @Scotchserved, or at

3 Steps to Tasting The Glenlivet w/ Candy Waltrip

Here's a cool story, Hansel:

Once upon a time I used to model. it's not who I am, but it is something I did. The best memories from that time in my life include this girl right here, model and fellow whisky enthusiast, Candy Waltrip. She is now a Los Angeles based model and blog writer for Travel Pockets. I scrolled back far enough in my Facebook pictures and I even found proof!

(Enter cliché Zoolander quote here)



Candy recently checked out The Glenlivet - Nights of Passage Whisky Tasting, and she was kind enough to share her experience for you all, and the 3 steps to tasting whisky- The Glenlivet Way! Enjoy! 

Candy Waltrip and Cassandra Ericson at Bebe Runway show circa 2009!


     I recently attended “The Glenlivet - Nights of Passage” whisky tasting and left knowing a whole lot more about whisky. First, I had no idea that “The Glenlivet” was the largest whisky distillery in the world. They outsell the number two and number three whisky distilleries combined. You may be wondering why I’m saying “The Glenlivet” and not just “Glenlivet”. Apparently, the correct and proper way to identify this whisky is to put the “The” in front of Glenlivet.

     The Glenlivet whisky tasting was a nice introduction to whisky newbies like myself. First question that was asked during the tasting was, “What is the difference between whisky and scotch?” To tell you the truth, I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know the answer to this. They are both a whisky, but the main difference between scotch and whisky is geographic. Scotch is just whisky that is made in Scotland. Now that we have that question answered, here are some of the other things I learned as a whisky newbie.

     The whisky tasting started with a brief history of The Glenlivet, but of course everyone was waiting for the fun part of tasting the whisky! There is a three step process to properly acquire the full experience of tasting whisky :

Step 1 : Swirl your glass and smell the whisky.

Step 2 : Kiss the whisky. Basically let the whisky touch your lips, but don’t actually open your mouth to drink it.

Step 3 : Take a sip and then tilt your head forward for a few seconds and then swallow. If you did this step correctly, the warmth and flavor of the whisky should be felt throughout your mouth only.


     We each had our own seat with three glasses of scotch : 12, 15, and 18 year scotch. Did you know that the 15 year aged whisky is not the 12 year whisky aged an extra three years? And the 18 year whisky is not the 15 year aged an additional three years. They are all completely different flavored scotch whiskies. I’m used to seeing whisky bottles labeled with a year, but the new trend in whisky is starting to move away from that. For example, The Glenlivet “Founders Reserve”, does not have a huge number labeled on its bottle. This information may be nothing new for whisky connoisseurs, but for me it was a wealth of information.

Photo by Candy Waltrip

Photo Provided by Candy Waltrip

Photo Provided by Candy Waltrip

Guest writer : Candy Waltrip from Travel Pockets is a travel and fashion blogger. Born and raised in Japan, she has traveled the world and lived in Norway, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. She currently resides in Los Angeles.