Longing Fir a Flavor

Douglas Fir Martini

Doesn’t it look like perfection?

Or, “When Determination Becomes Obsession

I was born in New Jersey, raised in New Jersey, lived here all my life with the exception of college. I am indeed a Jersey girl. But sometimes the laws governing this state make me crazy. I’ve run into it with regulation preventing our family doctor from writing a proper prescription for my son, and I’ve come up against the laws preventing me from buying alcohol.

I was reading the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago and there was an article about replacements for eggnog (a truly repellent drink). There were recipes and pictures and one in particular caught my attention. I was reading the print version which had many pictures and recipes, but I see that the online link (assuming it will work for you) comes up with the very same cocktail that caught my fancy – Shaken and Firred (adapted from Heidi Smart of Hood River Distillers, Hood River, Oregon). The picture all by itself is enticing – cool, simple, herbal. When I read the recipe, I was determined to try this drink.

1 oz vodka
1 oz Clear Creek Douglas Fir Brandy
1/4 oz dry vermouth
Add these to an ice-filled shaker, shake and strain into a martini glass rimmed with sugar and garnished with a sprig of rosemary.

Delicious, right???? I sent my husband an email and asked him to call our 3 preferred liquor stores and see if they had the Douglas Fir brandy. I wasn’t expecting that they would, but I thought we’d try the simple approach first. They did not have it and only one offered to obtain it for us. I stopped in that store a day or so later and left my name and number for someone to call me back so I could order (the cashier could not do that). Never heard back. Okay, not a show stopper. I was out with a friend and asked her if she had a high-end liquor store near her that might carry the Douglas Fir brandy. We got out our smart phones and began calling about. Nope, none of the stores near there carried it and none offered to help order. Fine, be that way. When I got home I went online to order it. I found a distributor, placed an order, got a confirming email and was quite pleased.
Douglas Fir brandy

The next morning I received an email from the distributor telling me they were out of stock and couldn’t fill the order. So I tried a different distributor, at twice the price (old joke from my Treasury of Jewish Folklore: 6 kopeks? Sam down the street is selling fish for 3 kopeks! So why don’t you buy from Sam? Because Sam is out of fish. When *I* am out of fish, *I* sell it for 3 kopeks also!). These folks told me right up front – we’re sorry – we cannot ship liquor to NJ. Not really a surprise – I was pretty sure that was true and had been quite surprised when my order had gone through the night before.

rosemary

Fresh rosemary right at hand

Now, however, it was becoming more than wanting to try this drink. Now it was becoming a matter of ‘oh yeah, you think you are so smart you can STOP me from getting what I WANT???’ Time to be creative. I contacted my son and told him to look for it at his stores (because I could see that there WERE stores in Phoenix that carried the Douglas Fir brandy). Then I thought I’d never see it if I left it up to him so I went online again to order it SENT to him and then he could mail it to me. *smile* I’m so clever. Not. Apparently it could not be shipped directly to Arizona either. All the Phoenix stores were out of stock and the nearest store with stock was in Washington. A long drive from Tempe. So now I’m really ticked. This is beyond amusing – I am GOING TO GET THIS BRANDY. Big gun time. I contacted my friend Tess who LIVES in Oregon. Hah! I’ll get someone to walk up and buy a bottle directly and mail it to me.

I contacted Tess (who thought at first I was a spammer because I foolishly used FB messaging instead of simply texting). Once I proved my bona fides (by sending her a photo of the cauliflower ornament in my sukkah) we ended up having a long phone conversation, catching up with our lives. She promised to get me information. The next morning I had an email from her. It supplied the NJ distributor for Clear Creek, the contact’s name, his cell phone, and the fact that he still had 7 cases left. *laughing* We should take that information to the local liquor store and have them order it. I was traveling on business but my husband did indeed take the information to the store. They said they were placing an order that day and they would add the brandy to the order. On Friday my husband went to retrieve our treasure – 2 bottles of Clear Creek Douglas Fir brandy. They’d ordered 4 bottles and we took 2. *laughing* We hadn’t even TASTED it yet.

white pine

Looks like white pine to me, no point chopping my neighbor’s tree

That night was the big unveiling! Once I’d fed the cats (you remember them, right? black cat, gray cat, white cat), my time was mine. I went outside and cut some fresh rosemary. I rimmed the martini glass with sugar. I assembled the ingredients. I filled the shaker, shook and strained. Placed the rosemary on the glass. BEAUTIFUL!!! I took a sip. Well. Not exactly what I was expecting. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d wondered about the taste when I opened the bottle of brandy. It didn’t really SMELL very much like fir. The drink really didn’t taste much like fir either. It wasn’t bad, mind you, it simply wasn’t the herbally flavor I was imagining. My husband and I discussed it, dissected it. We thought that perhaps substituting genepys des alpes for the vermouth might get it closer to herbs and trees. That was last night’s experiment. Still not matching my desire. My husband wants to mix it with chambord, but I want a green drink, not a pink drink. I want herbs, not fruit. I tried soaking rosemary in a little bit of simple syrup and added that. It might have worked had I given it more time – there really was no rosemary taste. Now I’m looking for rosemary bitters, I see that such a thing exists. I want an herbal, plant flavor. Any suggestions for a recipe?

artificial arrangement

my artificial winter arrangement ๐Ÿ™‚

4 Responses to “Longing Fir a Flavor”


  1. 1 Deborah Cohn December 17, 2019 at 11:59 am

    This is such a great story. Also such an “Ahuva” story. As you know, I can’t offer any suggestions on how to make the drink. I did wonder, WHY did it have to be the exact brandy sold by the person (Heidi Smart) who presumably SOLD this brandy? I think you fell for the name! A few other observations: outstanding presentation of your drink as originally assembled! I thought I was looking at the online photo that you had downloaded. Also, love your winter artificial arrangement. Your niece has something similar hanging by her front door, except it’s natural, including red berries from the bush in front of her house. Also: State Line wouldn’t order the brandy for you? Anyway, terrific blog. I think you ought to submit it to someplace that publishes guest columns on the subject of drink recipes–there MUST be one somewhere! (Maybe wait until you get a recipe that meets your expectations? But definitely a keeper of an article.)

  2. 2 ahuva18 December 17, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Why THIS brandy? Because it was fir-flavored. There are not that many fir-flavored brandies out there. Glad you enjoyed the post. ๐Ÿ™‚ If I ever manage to tweak the recipe to meet MY expectations I’ll write back to Heidi Smart in Oregon and offer my concoction. ๐Ÿ™‚ Which reminds me – I need to go order rosemary bitters.

  3. 3 Deborah Cohn December 17, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    You never actually said that it tasted “firry.” Did you taste it separately to find out? I guess if it did, it wasn’t strong enough to flavor the entire drink. Maybe you just need to go throw a bunch of pine (or fir) needles right into your concoction (i TOLD you I wasn’t going to be much help…) Also: do garnishes actually flavor the drink? If not, why are you looking for rosemary? Is that the only “herby” flavor that you’re craving for this drink? Is there anything else besides that? (Also: “bitters.” Does that mean it’s actually bitter? I don’t understand bitters. But all this talk has made me crave a seasonal pumpkin-vodka-infused white russian…..

  4. 4 ahuva18 December 17, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    I can tell that you are home sick with not much to do. ๐Ÿ™‚ You are not usually this interested in cocktails. No, I don’t think it tastes ‘firry’. It tastes and smells like brandy, although the taste is not so sweet and does have some sort of overtone. I’m not sufficiently educated in this terminology to do much better than that. It’s tasty. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the smell of rosemary and so it made me think of finding something infused with rosemary instead of merely smelling the garnish. I don’t expect the garnish to really flavor the drink. I love basil too. ๐Ÿ™‚ As for ‘bitters’ – LMGTFY They are alcohol with botanical material. Since this cocktail got me thinking along the lines of vodka and botanical material, that’s why I thought about bitters instead of vermouth.
    I don’t think a pumpkin-infused-vodka white russian is the best drink for someone who is home with horrific congestion, laryngitis and general cold/flu misery. I could be wrong however, as a taxi driver once told me to take my flu and a bottle of whiskey to the nearest steam room and drink until I was clear. Or no longer cared if I could breathe.


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