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ace hotel and free house in portland: PDX, cocktails, and a perfect mocha

Ace Hotel, PDX - photo: Warren Bobrow, Leica M8

I’m just back from a marvelous, dreamy four days in Portland, Oregon.

This otherworldly place of filtered light interspersed with ambient soundtracks, set just beyond the imaginable to the starkly realistic.  They have cocktail culture down to a passionate science.  My friend Lance Mayhew sought to enlighten me.

He succeeded by leading me to water and suggested a few drinks.

Thank you Lance!

Free House gets it, preparing cocktails like the enticingly bold Duck Hook, Aviation Gin, Pimms, Lemon, Bitters and the most marvelous cucumber ice cube- (there’s an idea) I had inspiration and trepidation in every sip.  Inspiration from being asked to teach a session on free-style mixology for Foodista at the International Food Bloggers Conference and trepidation that no one in Morristown, NJ (my home town) would know what a Wormburner cocktail is.

The Wormburner is a remarkable combination of Bourbon, Lime, Grapefruit, Allspice Dram and Bitters.  The intelligent owners even have installed a small open kitchen serving wooden boards with hand-crafted salumi samples served alongside local vegetables that spoke of careful pickling and passion for flavor.  When I asked about the origin of the products I was told Olympic Provisions.

The one place I wanted to visit most of all, I never found the time to visit.

Instead there sat a selection of their most flavorful expressions like a mild roll named Saucisson D’Arles (just pork and salt)

Dueling Chorizo: Chorizo Rioja and Chorizo Andalucia

Loukanika which is a Greek style spiced salami.

The platter came with slices of baguette, good grainy mustard and the pickled vegetables.

The friends that I made while sharing salami, priceless.  Thank you Free House.

I wonder if Free House would consider putting this Tenneyson Absinthe wash and Zaya Rum cocktail I just created on their cocktail menu?

“Buck” Ritchey Cocktail named for the famous Pacific Northwest Cowboy Yodeler, Buck Ritchey.


Tenneyson Absinthe

Zaya Rum

Sparkling Hard Cider

Orange zest

Charred Lemon Juice (heat a cast iron pan to smoking and char slices of lemon, then cool)

Royal Rose 3 Chilies Syrup

Bitter End Mexican Mole Bitters


Wash your glass with some Tenneyson Absinthe by pre-chilling with a splash or two of the Tenneyson and iced water

let the iced water/Absinthe sit and chill

pour out or drink.. I prefer to drink rather than pour down the drain… Don’t you?

rub the inside of the glass with orange zest

add 2 oz Zaya Rum

add one giant cube of ice

add 2 tablespoons of Royal Rose 3 Chilies Simple Syrup

add 2 tablespoons of the charred lemon juice

top with sparkling hard cider

finish with three drops of Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters

Stumptown PDX, photo: Warren Bobrow, Leica M8

Ace Hotel gets it.

The Stumptown Coffee shop located just off the lobby makes the best Mocha I’ve ever had. Period.

Then of course there were the Anthony Gallo ‘Round-Sound’ speakers.  And of course the ambient soundtrack that sounded like Stars of the Lid.  Was it the coffee?  The filtered light? The refreshing air?  The lack of sleep?

I know what it is.

Being accepted by my peers as having the talent and the passion to succeed doing what I love.  And what is that?

Creating drinks on the fly. Using all beautifully crafted, hand-made (when possible) ingredients. Locally sourced.  Products that tell a story.

With love.

PSITHURISM. [noun]. 1. the sound of wind in trees or rustling leaves2. a whispering sound.

Ace Hotel, photo: Warren Bobrow, Leica M8





Florence von Pelet

Florence is a senior editor at Modenus.com. Aside from her natural passion for interiors, kitchens and baths Florence also leads the way on Modenus’ BlogTours around the world so please follow her on Twitter to get the latest information and inspiration about design trends from around the world.


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