Seattle Cocktail News Roundup

What's new and happening in Seattle's beverage scene
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Canon's Haley Holman, 2016 Speed Rack Northwest Winner, competing last year

It’s a great start to the year for cocktailing, as the New Year is kicking off with all sorts of fun news around local bars, distilleries and cideries, from fresh releases to charity bartending competitions and more. See below for all the details.

Rán Vodka Released from Chambers Bay: Hitting the shelves just a few days before Christmas, this vodka from the University Place distillery is infused with just a hint of pure sea salt that was harvested out of the waters around San Juan Island. The wheat-based Rán is named after the Norse sea goddess, who is represented in beautifully striking fashion on the bottle, which makes great sense as the distillery is so water-centric (they age their whiskey on a boat). While you’ll taste an echo of ocean, the vodka also carries a nice grain flavor, accented by a little vanilla and spice. Watch for it in local stores, though it’s always most fun to head to the distillery itself to sample. It’ll be a great addition to bloody marys, as well as other cocktails, but also is worth sipping solo.

Northwest Cider Association Members Head Overseas: It’s recently been announced that after receiving a special crop grant from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, ten of our swell local cidermakers (all members of the Northwest Cider Association) are going to England and France in May to visit cidermakers in Normandy, Brittany and western England. Beyond just making great connections and spreading the word about our delicious local ciders, they’ll be getting education on keeving, a traditional process that may take a little while, but that delivers a naturally sweet, sparkling cider. Pretty neat! The local cidermakers, who will be doing education on their return, include the Seattle Cider Company, Tieton Cider Works, Finnriver and others. 

Watch Top NW Female Shakers Compete in Speed Rack: Back for a sixth year, the 2017 Northwest version of Speed Rack is happening on Sunday, January 8th, at Washington Hall, 153 14th Avenue, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and is open to all. If you’ve forgotten, Speed Rack is an all-female speed-bartending competition, which raises money for breast cancer charities; it’s raised more than half a million dollars already! Top shakers compete in making drinks in timed heats for judges, who rate them on time and accuracy. The contest finalist from our area gets to go (with other area finalists) to the Jameson Distillery in Ireland and the Altos Distillery in Arandas, Mexico and take part in the National Finals on May 21, 2017 in New York. It’s amazingly exciting, with great drink-making, great drinks and even DJ-ing from Mamnoon executive chef Jason Stratton. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. 

Here’s a full list of competitors: 

Jennifer Akin – Rumba, Seattle, WA
Missy Berens – Heartwood Provisions, Seattle, WA 
Chelsea Ciaraldi – The 2 Mile Pub & Eatery, Olympia, WA 
Halley Connelly – Castagna, Quaintrelle, Portland, OR 
Kali Dickson – Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya, Olympia, WA 
Maggie DiGiovanni – Herb & Bitter Public House, Seattle, WA 
Becca June – Altabira City Tavern, Portland, OR 
Hollie Midori Kato – Lehua Lounge at Andaz Maui Wailea Resort, Maui, HI 
Mindy Kucan – Hale Pele, Seattle, WA
Taylor Mabbott – The Matador, East Burn, Portland, OR 
Bridget Maloney – Corvus & Company, Seattle, WA 
Lydia McLuen – Bar Casa Vale, Parasol, Portland, OR 
Natasha Mesa – The Benson, Portland OR 
Georgia Nikkole – Capps Club, Seattle, WA 
Jacyara de Oliveira – Rob Roy, The Hideout, Seattle, WA 
Megan Radke – Canon, Liberty, Seattle, WA 
Clara Ridabock – Century, Portland, OR 
Aubry Robinson – No Anchor Bar, Seattle, WA 
Amy Tegge – Multnomah Whiskey Library, The Green Room, Portland, OR 
Renee Valencia – The Tin Table, Umi Sake House, Seattle, WA 
Brea Wilske – The Whisky Bar, Seattle, WA

Recipe of the Week: Casco Antiguo's Corn Mash

Recipe of the Week: Casco Antiguo's Corn Mash

Serve it as a side dish or eat it straight from the pan
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A little like mac 'n' cheese... but with corn!

Comfort food takes many forms. That satisfying combo of sweet and savory are almost necessary. Plenty of cheese doesn’t hurt. Now here’s a recipe that hits on all the best elements of comforting cuisine, plus a little Serrano chili for heat. 

Casco Antiguo is a Pioneer Square Mexican restaurant best known for its 30-ingredient mole. But it’s this modest corn side dish that’s a favorite among regulars. Owners say it's a play off a traditional Mexican street food called" ezquites," where corn is boiled with epazote and butter, then served in a disposable cup with cheese, salt, lime, chili powder and mayo. 

Since it's damn hard to find fresh corn this time of year, so I used all frozen, and I think the flavor was still good. If you don’t have crema on hand, I used sour cream in a pinch—it was firmer than crema, but I think leant a similar flavor. I used a whole Serrano and was disappointed in the lack of heat, though that’s a fault of the pepper and not the dish. Perhaps leave the seeds in if you want it a little hotter (I will next time). At the restaurant, it’s served alongside everything from braised pork cheeks to baby octopus—I think it would be a great with a Southern-inspired barbecue feast as well. 

Casco Antiguo Corn Mash
Makes 6-8 Servings

1 tbsp canola oil
2 ½ cups raw sweet corn
2 ½ cups pre-cooked frozen corn, thawed
½ -1 Serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
¾ cups crema Mexicana (found in Mexican markets or specialty stores)
¾ cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, add canola oil and raw corn. Sauté for two to three minutes. Add the thawed corn, chopped peppers, salt and pepper. Sauté until corn and peppers are tender. Fold in the cream cheese until corn and peppers are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the crema Mexicana until the dish becomes creamy in texture. Add the Monterey cheese and continue to whisk until the cheese is melted and the dish is smooth and saucy. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes before serving.