The Nightride Cocktail

I risked my life to discover this cocktail... and it was totally worth it.

In February of 2014, one of the worst storms in Portland’s history wreaked havoc on the city for over a week. My wife and I planned to visit our friends for the weekend, and being that I’m from Montana, I laughed at the notion of a “snow storm” in the Pacific Northwest. It turned out to be worse than I imagined (respect!), but I was determined not to let it ruin our trip.

One of my best friends, a fellow Montanan, lives in Portland, and he was up for venturing out through the snow and black ice. Our wives were less excited. I wanted to visit the Multnomah Whiskey Library, but they would not commit to keep their doors open. “We’ll close if the storm gets worse or people stop coming in,” I was told. That scenario didn’t give confidence to our wives, so I chose a restaurant that guaranteed to be open, Grain and Gristle.

As soon as we entered the busy restaurant, I was impressed. I could tell the reason they didn’t close was because many of the people were locals and probably avoided the inclement weather by walking a few blocks from their home to the restaurant.

The History

On the menu that night was a cocktail called the Nightride. Whiskey, elderflower, lemon, and absinthe were the ingredients. How could I not try that? The drink was awesome. After emailing the restaurant, I learned that their bar manager, John Egan, created the recipe. Since they have a limited selection of spirits, he doesn’t use elderflower liqueur but makes an elderflower syrup.

The Recipe

The syrup was quite good, but since it’s fairly involved and I love St Germain, I substitute the liqueur for Egan’s syrup. Here’s the recipe:

Add all the ingredients (except for the absinthe) into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Coat a chilled rocks glass with absinthe. Strain ingredients into the glass. No garnish.

The Execution

Here are a few tips to help perfect the cocktail:

  • Big Bottom Whiskey is a great distillery from Portland. I love their straight bourbon finished in port casks. If you can’t find any of their products at your local liquor store, substitute in any quality bourbon.
  • There are two common ways to do the absinthe rinse. Pour a small amount of absinthe into the glass, swirl it around, and dump out the excess. The second way, and the way I recommend, is to buy an atomizer (pictured above) and fill it with absinthe. Give the glass a healthy 2–3 squirts and a fine mist will perfectly coat the inside of the glass. This method is also preferred because you don’t have to waste any absinthe. (That stuff’s expensive!)

This cocktail has great tart and floral flavors that balance out the whiskey well. The absinthe rinse provides excellent anise flavors both on the nose and as you drink. And since it’s summer, you can make it in the comfort of your home without risking your life on icy roads.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below, email, or hit us up on social media. No question is too basic!