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.

Apple Cinnamon Sweet Tea - Cocktail Recipe

Have you checked out this issue of Chilled Magazine? if you haven't yet, here is a sneak peek at my recipe featured in "Food Know How"!

For fall/winter flavors, I took the apple pie and ran with it. Here in the Pacific Northwest, apple season is celebrated and you can find its influence on menus all over town. Apple pie is one of those classic American comfort foods. Those warm and fuzzy feels familiar on your tongue, radiating warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg throughout. Combined with another Southern Classic, sweet tea, it is a match made in heaven. 

For a unique twist on a spiked sweet tea, I chose to use a local Portland, OR product from Bull Run Distillery- Medoyeff Starka Vodka. Dubbed the "Vodka for Whiskey Lovers" it is a vodka aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels. Truly unique and flavorful, it adds depth and flavor to an otherwise simple recipe.


Apple Cinnamon Sweet Tea

4 oz Apple Cinnamon Sweet Tea
2 oz Medoyeff Starka (barrel aged Vodka)
1 oz Lemon Juice (strained)
3 dashes Grapefruit Bitters

Apple Cinnamon Sweet Tea: In a heat safe pitcher, combine 2 cups of sugar and 5 cups of boiling water, stir until sugar is dissolved. Add 4 bags of apple cinnamon herbal tea. Cover and steep until contents have come to room temperature. 

Combine all ingredients in shaker, shake fiercely and dump into collins glass. Garnish with Lemon wheel 


Eau de Vie - "Water of Life" and the Trou Normond

Eau de Vie literally translates in French to "Water of Life". Despite being derived from fruit, this subtly flavored brandy is very alcohol forward. Typically clear, and not aged in casks, some common flavors include: apple, pear, peach, fig, and yellow plum.  When I lived in Toulouse, the cutest little old man living next to us had an annual release of his home made Figue Eau de Vie with figs straight out of his yard. It had an almost lavender-esque nose, strong burn in your chest, and left you with a warm tingling sensation on your scalp afterwards. My host family kept a bottle on hand for every special occasion.

You may be familiar with its aged counterpart, Calvados, which you can have a shot of with your morning coffee along "The Cider Route" in Normandy, France. Funnily enough, ordering a side of calvados with your coffee is cheaper than ordering a calvados by itself. This is because only the locals know about this, and keeping the prices down help to continue the rich cultural tradition.

During French meals, which have a considerable number of courses, if you are starting to feel full you have a digestif, or "Trou Normond".

Learn more about the "Trou Normond" in my interview with Joshua Caine Media here

In the US, this spirit is considerably less popular. However, there is one distillery here in Portland keeping the tradition alive and well. They even produce the rare "Pear grown in the bottle" variety, of which I got to taste from an ICE LUGE. Fan-fuckin-tastic. Now I just need to figure out how to put this on tap in my house.

Meet Clear Creek Distillery, who celebrated their 30th Anniversary Party in May 2016. According to their website: 

"Clear Creek Distillery was founded in 1985 with a vision to use the bountiful fruits of the Pacific Northwest to create fruit-based spirits that rivaled the best of their European counterparts. Using old-world techniques and sourcing ingredients from the local orchards and fresh water springs of Mount Hood in the Oregon countryside, Clear Creek became one of the first craft distilleries in the United States."

Here are some photos from the 30th Anniversary event, where guests enjoyed craft cocktails with this tantalizing spirit. Enjoy!