Thursday, March 19, 2009
MIX MASTERS: Portland's Top Bartenders Share Their Signature Style
of Clyde Common
1014 SW Stark St, 228-3333, clydecommon.com
By Shanon Emerson
Kevin Ludwig first learned how to make authentic and classic cocktails when he worked at Wildwood, but it was his time behind the bar at Park Kitchen that brought out his inner mixologist. It was there that Park Kitchen chef Scott Dolich first introduced him to flavor profiles. Ludwig took what Dolich taught him about food and applied it to cocktails. Soon he was recreating and improving upon many of a cocktail’s basic or obscure ingredients, often making them from scratch.
One of the basics Ludwig currently makes himself is tonic water. After years of putting up with tonic water containing high-fructose corn syrup and synthetic quinine, Ludwig started making his own with pure cane sugar and actual quinine.
Oscar’s Drink, one of Ludwig’s signature cocktails, is prepared almost entirely using his own handmade ingredients. Inspired by the Waldorf salad and named after Oscar Tschirky—the inventor of the salad—Oscar’s Drink contains Applejack, homemade spiced apple cider Triple Sec, homemade Nocino (green walnut liqueur) and homemade celery bitters. Applejack, a blend of apple brandy and neutral spirits, is a liquor with a colonial pedigree that’s still made by America’s first commercial distillery and the holder of federal liquor license No. 1, Laird and Company.
When asked what makes a great cocktail, Ludwig answered with one word: “balance.” This is the basis upon which Ludwig builds all his cocktails. It also seems to be a key element to the creation of his restaurant and bar, Beaker and Flask, which will be opening soon. When Beaker and Flask does open its doors, Ludwig will have many long-time friends and co-workers at his side, working with him to create a place that they’re all proud of. When people walk in the door of Beaker and Flask, Ludwig wants them “to feel the vibe we get from each other...working together. We actually like each other and love being around each other.” For now, you can enjoy Ludwig’s creations at Clyde Common, a place with its own good vibes. Expect to find him there behind the bar, putting the final touches on his most recent concoctions. (Photo credit: Amaren Colosi)