Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lavish Local Flavor

The first words out of her mouth got my attention.

"I'm a stay-at-home mom who makes booze in my barn," said Meghan Zonich (below) of Northwest Distillery.

She went on to explain that a few years ago her husband, Cory, got into a conversation with Jim Bendis of Bendistillery and became excited about making his own vodka. In partnership with the Central Oregon distiller, they began making Liquid Vodka that, at just under $15 a bottle, filled a niche for a relatively inexpensive, high quality handmade Oregon vodka.

The couple had bought the farm that Cory had grown up on in Warren, Oregon, but they had no intention of becoming farmers. They did, however, have a barn that could be converted into a distillery and they began making the vodka on the farm in 2007. That same year it won a bronze medal in the San Francisco Wine and Spirits competition, and they decided to expand their lineup.

Experimenting with mint from a small farm up in Lacey, Washington, Meghan discovered that the essential oils from peppermint and spearmint, when added to their vodka along with just a touch of lime, had a fresh mint flavor that worked perfectly in mint-based cocktails. And local bartenders liked the fact that it was a natural product without the unpleasant chemical taste of many artificially flavored vodkas on the market.

Meghan says her favorite drink is a splash of it on the rocks with soda and a twist of lime. Others find it's the perfect thing to add some oomph to a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Personally, I can't wait to try it in a summer mojito.

Lavish Mojito

2 oz. Lavishmint Vodka
2 oz. club soda
1 oz. simple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 sprig mint

Mix and serve over ice. Garnish with mint.

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