Oregon grape liqueur
When I initially tried my first batch of this liqueur I was thinking it’d be a good replacement for sloe gin.
Lesson learned: Never trust your first impressions. Sometimes, you only find the real value in something after you’ve gone through most of the bottle. Oregon-grape gin has earned a permanent place in my liquor cabinet not as a sloe gin substitute – the more I tried that, the more I thought that actually it’s too strongly flavored and not sweet enough – but in its own right as a unique “sweet” component that won’t dilute the bitter/herbal-ness of aperitifs.
What sealed the deal was realizing that in the right context (by which I usually mean bourbon) it brings out a smoky flavor – almost but not quite like rinsing the glass with Laphroaig. I do not understand this at all, since I’ve never found a smoky or peaty flavor in anything else I’ve made with oregon grape, but I’m not going to complain.
It also loves tequila and mezcal. Try a Northwest margarita, using oregon-grape gin instead of triple sec.