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.


  1. Lockwood wrote:

    Do you make this yourself? I’ve never heard of it before. I’m not much of one for sweet drinks, or most liquor of any kind (though rarely, dark rum is nice), but I’d love to try this, just for curiosity’s sake.

  2. Maria wrote:

    I do make it myself! It is super easy – pick the berries, put them in a jar with some sugar, cover with gin, shake ~daily until the sugar dissolves and then let it sit on a dark shelf for 3-4 months. I had, I dunno, 2 cups of berries and 1 cup of sugar per quart jar? Something like that.

    Despite the sugar it doesn’t taste all that sweet.

  3. erica wrote:

    Mmm, fun. I was really excited to find Oregon grapes with enough fruit on them to make stuff a few years back. I made “sauce” or “syrup” and then drank a bunch of in in kombucha. Nice to make your acquaintance.

  4. Maria wrote:

    I always feel like I’m somehow defective as a natural-foodie for disliking kombucha. Everyone else seems to have so much fun with it!

  5. erica wrote:

    At first I had to sweeten it with honey or various fruit concoctions–Oregon grape among them–but it grew on me. I get to enjoy all the kombucha without doing the work because my fiancee loves making the stuff.

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