The Winter Sun is a great use of Bluewater Distillery’s Blood Orange Vodka. (Submitted photo)

The Winter Sun is a great use of Bluewater Distillery’s Blood Orange Vodka. (Submitted photo)

Snohomish County distillers share their favorite cocktail recipes

Walking through Skip Rock Distillers, one gets the distinct feeling of entering the laboratory of a mad genius.

Beakers of brown liquid, filled to varying levels, are set about a work table. A notebook stuffed with papers is opened to a sheet that is half full of scribbled writing with distinct air of important scientific measurements. A number of gauges are set aside, ready to be used.

Bubbling almost in the background are the stars of the show. Three tall and lean (and beautiful) stills reach toward the ceiling of the distillery, condensation collecting on their small circular windows. There’s little sound, but enough evidence that something rather serious is taking place here.

Skip Rock owner Ryan Hembree walks gracefully around the stacked oak barrels and piles of grain bags and other fresh ingredients, taking a moment every once in awhile to sip on some of that brown liquid. Hembree opened Skip Rock with his wife, Julie, in 2009, and they’ve been making award-winning spirits just off First Street in Snohomish ever since.

As most of us information-age clock-punchers toil away behind computer screens all day, Hembree, and the other members of the new age of craft distillers, work to create new and flavorful spirits that are reshaping the craft distillery world.

With the precision and rigor of a chemist and the heart and soul of a backwoods bootlegger, these craft distillers are making some of the best distilled liqueurs on the planet.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the state of Washington, where more than 110 distilleries have opened their doors since 2010. To put it in perspective, there are just north of 500 micro-distilleries in the entire United States.

Here in Snohomish County, we’re fortunate to have some of the best.

Along with Skip Rock, AJ Temple, of Lynnwood’s Temple Distilling, has won numerous awards for his Chapter One London Dry Gin and Bookmark Limoncello since opening in 2015, while John Lundin, of Bluewater Distilling, and his vision of a modern cocktail bar and restaurant, are redefining what it means to be a “destination distillery.”

“The Pacific Northwest offers a special business environment to craft producers,” said Lundin, from Bluewater’s home on Everett’s burgeoning waterfront, “one where consumers are genuinely interested in what we do and why we do it.”

The No. 1 champion of these spirits are the very men who create them. Talk to any of them and they will tell you why their gin, whiskey, vodka, etc., is the best. Mix the spirits the way the creators like to enjoy them, and one will find it’s hard to argue with them.

The following are some of the distillers’ favorite drink recipes.

Ryan Hembree, Skip Rock Distillers, Snohomish

King Cole

This pre-prohibition cocktail is one of Hembree’s favorites to show off the finer parts of the distillery’s rye whiskey, derived from locally sourced rye, triticale and malt.

2 ounces rye whiskey

¼ ounce Fernet Branc

¼ ounce simple syrup

Stir well with ice and pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange or pineapple wedge.

Black Russian

Hembree makes Skip Rock’s Coffee Liqueur with locally sourced Balam Coffee grown on the hills above the Jaguar Forest in southern Mexico. He likes to pour it over ice cream, but when he’s looking to make a drink, he turns to this classic.

2 ounces Skip Rock Coffee Liqueur

1 ounce vodka

Pour over ice.

A.J. Temple, Temple Distilling, Lynnwood

English Channel

With the gin from jolly ol’ England on one side and the French St. Germain and Lillet on the other (thus the English Channel name), this drink can please both sides of the divide.

1½ ounces Temple’s Chapter One London Dry Gin

½ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce St. Germain

½ ounce lillet

Healthy shake of orange bitters

Shake and pour into a cocktail glass.

Stirred Sour

Temple’s Limoncello is great on its own, but Temple has been fielding a lot of questions lately about what kind of drink he likes best with the award-winning fruit liqueur.

2 ounces bourbon

1 ounce Temple Bookmark Limoncello

2 shakes orange bitters

Shake and pour over ice.

John Lundin, Bluewater Distillery, Everett

The Winter Sun

Using the distillery’s newest infused liqueur, this bright drink is a like a rare solar sighting in January: The perfect way to brighten up any dark, short winter day.

2 ounces Blood Orange Vodka

¾ ounce Cocchi Americano

½ ounce simple syrup

1 teaspoon Allspice Tincture

½ ounce lemon

Muddle lemon and blood orange and add all ingredients over ice. Shake and strain. Garnish with blood orange.

Viking Diplomacy

The Akvavit is a new entrant to the Bluewater lineup, but Lundin wasted no time in expressing his Nordic heritage in this libation. Unlike its namesake, this drink’s subtle herbal flavors mixes well with others.

2 ounces Nordsjon Akvavit

½ ounce lime

¼ ounce simple syrup

2 slices cucumber

Sprig fennel

Muddle the cucumber and fennel with lime and add all ingredients over ice. Shake and strain.

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