When the Beer Angels sent out an email with upcoming events for July, I knew I had to attend the “Craft Beer Cocktails with Bendistillery” event last week. I am a HUGE fan of Bendistillery’s Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka.
After paying the Beer Angel’s small event fee, I was on my way to the Bendistillery’s tasting room, a short drive just outside of Bend just above the hill outside of Tumalo. I made my way into the front door of the tasting room and was warmly greeted by the Beer Angels. It was a very warm day and some ladies took advantage of arriving through the new misters on the back patio.
We were greeted by Jennah and her husband James. If our raffle ticket ended in an odd number, we were to take the tour first, but I had an even number, so tasting 4 cocktails first it was!
The first was a Pale Ginger Shandy with Crater Lake Sweet Ginger Vodka. The cocktail was refreshing at first (hot day), but then it got me with the pale ale a few more sips down and then I wonder why my palate does not like the wheaty or hoppy characters. I have tasted the Ginger Vodka on its own and it’s quite gingery and I liked it paired with something instead of just a taste on its own. It was quite refreshing on a 90+ degree day. I sipped and sipped and mostly finished before the next cocktail was served.
The next cocktail was a Beer Sangria with Crater Lake Vodka. I picked up a glass with apples instead of oranges. I’m glad I did because I really liked this one while it was very cold and was also eating the apples and grapes. As the first, it was quite refreshing with a very cold beverage on a hot day and I was surprised I liked this because yes, the wheat beer, but also because I am not a huge fan of sangrias (maybe one or two in the past). I’d make this again at home with the recipe provided and perhaps a sour that I will drink.
I figured the next cocktail, I would not like and I was right. It was explained that if you like Bloody Marys, this is right up your alley. My palate is not with spicy drinks and one sip and I was done. It was good and tasted exactly like a bloody, but very much not my palate. I tried to give my drink away at the table, but everyone was fine on their own and the next drink came quickly. Later, someone that really liked it, asked what happened to mine and would have drank it. This is the one vodka on its own I’ve never tried because I’m not a huge pepper fan.
The next drink came out quickly because the tour group was completing their tour. Pitch Dark Coffee Stout with Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka. I wasn’t sure if I would like this because of the Stout beer used, but I liked it. At first, it was quite sweet and I stirred and was quite full from drinking so many cocktails in a short time. I decided to take this on the tour with me. As the ice melted, it was less sweet (or able to be more mixed) and it was quite good.
A small bite feast from Hola was provided. Tasty pork and chicken empanadas, ceviche, chips, green and red salsa, and guacamole rounded out the small bites that were consumed under the misters of the back patio with the setting sun against the mountains as our view.
Next, we set out on our tour with James. I encourage you all to go out to Bendistillery tasting room and get a free tour and tasting. While the BA got a more behind the scenes tour, the growth that (I believe) Bend’s original distillery is experiencing is well worth the five minute drive outside of Bend. They are expanding their current four spirits to include estate spirits (a vodka, gin and rye whiskey) and also private labels. I hear there is also a special collaboration between Deschutes Brewery and the Crater Lake Brand.
I also encourage you to visit their drink recipe page as it is a vast plethora of recipes, including some with beer to make at home.