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Cocktail of the Week: Heaven’s Kickback, Kask, Portland Oregon

Let’s talk about celery for a second.

Kask’s Heaven’s Kickback on the left and the Bootstrap Buck on the right

That probably lost hundreds of readers instantly.We all know about it’s bitter, funky, watery taste, along with the crunch when you bite into it, often accompanied by some shreds that get stuck between your teeth. It takes more calories to eat celery than you’ll actually consume in the celery (but it’s hard to consume much if not covered in peanut butter…). I’m no advocate for celery. I’ll eat it, I can enjoy it, but it probably is still my least favorite ingredient in the cooking world. My brother won’t even look at it. I know somebody who went so far on a lunchtime diet to have nothing but plain celery (and a piece of a fruit and a cookie).

When celery is considered in regards to cocktails, it generally revolves around the celery sticks in a Sunday morning bloody mary or celery salt on the rim of a tequila drink.

Ariana Vitale, a bartender at Kask, the tiny, handsome Alice in Wonderland meets GQ bar owned by and adjacent to big brother restaurant Grüner, has created a daring cocktail that works beautifully, because of a distinct sour element from celery bitters. The Heaven’s Kickback revolves around Peruvian Encanto pisco. Pisco is an unaged brandy, with far less of the burn associated with most brandies. It’s an excellent cocktail spirit (see all the terrific pisco punches and pisco sours of the world). Then come the sour elements of grapefruit and lemon, some floral notes of St. Germain liqueur, and then a touch of honey.

The finale is the scene stealer, the celery bitters. It’s a complex, startling drink with indeed a kick back at you from that celery, yet remains remarkably easy to drink. Served up in an elegant vintage coupe with a grapefruit twist, there you have finally a smart use of celery in an example of a perfectly balanced, unique cocktail. You’ll like it, even if you look the other way towards celery at the table.

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