Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau de Vie

This is Eau de Vie (water of life) made by infusing clear brandy with the springtime buds of the Douglas Fir pine tree. I heard of this for the first time on Eric Asimov's blog last summer. I had tried Clear Creek Eaux de Vie before, but I'd never even heard of Douglas fir.

Stephen McCarthy runs Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, Oregon. He makes labor-intensive brandies and liquors (and one whiskey) in the old-world style. He avoids adding sugar, colors, or flavors. If there is a problem with the crop of raspberries one year, for example, then there is no Raspberry Eau de Vie that year. McCarthy is an artisan and from what I've tasted, his brandies are delicious and worth every penny.

I'd been kind of passively looking for a bottle of Douglas Fir Eau de Vie (photo courtesy of Clear Creek's website) since reading about it in The Pour, but no one seemed to carry it. The other flavors, sure, but Douglas Fir - no dice. I was quite a happy Brooklynguy back in December when I saw a few bottles on the top of the very top shelf behind the register at Slope Cellars in Brooklyn. I've been enjoying it slowly, keeping it hidden in the secret compartment of our wooden bar (visible in the second photo in the link, the area between the two open compartments) so that only those who I deem worthy will get a taste. I keep other good stuff in there too - homemade raspberry and ginger vodkas, an original signed copy of the Declaration of Independence, stuff like that. Anyway...

The Douglas Fir Eau de Vie just so good that it's hard to explain. The color is a gorgeous bright green, much easier to appreciate after reading on the website that no colors are added. The nose is the essence of the forest, but even more concentrated. Fresh pine, very bright and clean smelling. Strong, no doubt - this is 47.73% alcohol, but also smooth and delicate on the palate, with springtime freshness and green pine goodness, and something just a tiny bit soapy in the back. A small portion of this in a wine glass after a heavy meal - I cannot imagine a better digestif.

Sorry for the rather weak descriptions, but I have not other way to describe this to you - this stuff is Pacific coast spring in a bottle, and for only about $50 for 375 ml. And it lasts a long time, provided that you enjoy it every two weeks or so and hide it from your friends. Does your bar have a secret compartment?

4 comments:

Richard A. said...

Last month, I tried some of the Douglas Fir for the first time. I was at a local restaurant and they had a cocktail called a Shiver, which is made of Campari, Grapefruit and the Douglas Fir.

It was certainly a unique drink, with some bitterness on the finish and a definite taste of woodsy pine.

cook eat FRET said...

just a hello from me. checking in on your blog. i've been going at it 9 months or so now. but haven't made scallops in awhile. soon...

Brooklynguy said...

hey richard - that sounds tasty, although hard to imagine putting anything into this stuff. how could there be a better way to enjoy it than on its own? that does sound nice though.

hey fret - i remember you! i'm glad things are working out well - your site looks terrific. thanks for stopping by.

jed said...

Thanks for writing about this great spirit. I ran across a bottle in a store yesterday and couldn't resist. Truly a unique item. Now that I've tried it, I'm pretty much sold and I'm enjoying a bit at the moment mixed about even with Balvenie Doublewood over ice. I think tomorrow I'll try adding a little honey and shaking it.