Portland Food Photographer- House Spirits Distillery



I recently spent some time at House Spirits Distillery.  In the past, I’ve stopped in for a tasting but this time around I received a more intimate look at the SE Portland distillery.  I had the chance to attend their cocktail 101 class AND I went on a tour with the owner and head distiller himself, Christian Krogstad.

Cocktail 101 Class:  Loved it.  If you’re into crafting cocktails at home, it’s a necessary class.  I came away with all sorts of tips and tricks that I never knew.  I know the backstory of an Old Fashioned and that I desperately need a Boston Shaker and a Hawthorne strainer to make my home bar complete.  I witnessed how to use a channel knife and now know the importance of peeling your garnish over the top of your cocktail (citrus spray!) I realized that I’ve been using a muddler the wrong way (who knew?!)  and I’m a fan of daiquiris (not the frozen sweet daiquiris.)  During the cocktail 101 class, the instructor will go over things like bar equipment, how to make a stirred cocktail vs. a shaken cocktail (and when to stir vs. shake), the template for a sour and how to correctly muddle.  The hands-on approach is great.  You don’t just watch and listen- you make your own cocktails.  And at the end, you get the chance to create your own cocktail recipe and enter it into a contest for some cool prizes.  I would highly recommend taking the class.  Starting in July they will offer the class every month. Check that and other classes out here.

Tour:  The tour I took with Christian was awesome and educational.  He showed me the steps of how the malt whiskey, Westward, is distilled- essentially starting with beer (we tasted a few samples too).  I walked through the distilling process and at the end tasted both their White Dog Whiskey (before barrel) and their Westward whiskey.  As I tried some of their other liquors: rums, aquavit, gin- we started to talk about cocktails.  …Christian- I went home and tried a gin martini with a dash of orange bitters, loved it.  I mixed a 20th-century cocktail together- and I’m still not sold on it. (Other recipes call for a crème de cacao blanc??) And I ordered a copy of The Savoy Cocktail Book.

Between the class and the tour, I feel like I gained a lot of knowledge and insight into the beautiful thing we call a cocktail.

So I took what I learned and played around with two cocktails- a chocolate martini (no, not the super sweet dessert kind) and, a new favorite of mine- the daiquiri.  Recipes will follow, I hope you enjoy the photos!

Chocolate Martini

  • 1 1/2 oz. Volstead Vodka
  • 1 oz. House Spirits Crème de Cacao
  • 1 oz. Amontillado Sherry

Confession: This is where I should write the steps on how to mix the cocktail.  And I just had that “oh shit” moment where I realized I did something wrong.  End of the world wrong?  No- but I made a photographer error!  See from my cocktails 101 class I learned that when using nothing but spirits (no juice, no egg whites, etc.) that I should stir the cocktail, not shake.  I was going to write that in the instructions…. and as I began to type… I realized I put the shaker (and not even a Boston Shaker because I don’t own one yet) in the photos.  AGGGHHH!!  Typically I wouldn’t post the above images because of my mistake.  But I think there is a lot to learn here. First, you now know when to shake vs. stir.  Second, even when you make a mistake- you can still drink it and enjoy it. (Duh!)  Third- my photographer tip- make sure your images make sense!!  And fourth- it’s okay to post mistakes, no one is perfect.  Alllll that to say- put all three ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice, stir, strain, enjoy. 🙂


  • 1 oz. Casa Magdalena Ron Blanco Rum
  • 1 0z. Krogstad Festlig Aquavit
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup

Note- Don’t worry- you can shake this cocktail!  You can use 2 0z. of rum or 2 oz. of aquavit and make the daiquiri that way. I enjoyed mixing the two together so this is my slight adaptation of the recipe.  I lowered the simple sugar down from 3/4 oz. as well.

Instructions: In a shaker add all ingredients, add ice, shake for six seconds, strain, garnish with lime.

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