Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Cocktail Showdown: Week 2

Cocktail Showdown | November 8th, 2017

The second week of our Cocktail Showdown is another great illustration of the wide range of establishments that are participating. It’s also a good illustration of the wide range of experiences our vibrant downtown nightlife has to offer. This week’s cocktails are offered up by one of the more recent additions to Downtown, Proof Artisan Distillers tasting room, and The Empire Tavern, a downtown staple since 1936.

Proof Artisan Distillers opened in 2015 and is located on 4th Avenue and just off 4th street north in Downtown Fargo. Their handcrafted spirits line includes three different gins, vodka, cream and coffee liqueurs, cinnamon whiskey, aquavit, and a single-malt american whiskey, as well as a bourbon that is not quite ready for release yet. Their tasting room is locally and regionally known for serving up craft cocktails made from fresh and house-made ingredients, and is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 5pm to midnight. They also have an excellent food menu and the man behind the menu, Executive Chef Judd Eskildsen, was the man presenting us with the cocktail creations on this night.

The after dinner drink: Freya’s Kiss

The creator: Judd Eskildsen

Judd fills a shaker with ice and adds to it: 1 ounce of Proof Minions Van Skap Aquavit, ½ ounce of a house-made, barrel-aged triple sec, 1 and ½ ounces of a house-made white cranberry and peach syrup, and a dash of orange blossom water. This mixture is shaken lightly and then strained into a stone bowl before being garnished with an edible orchid. The presentation is simple and beautiful, but the cocktail brings to life the nuanced blend of floral, herbal and citrus notes of the Aquavit and has a full and pleasing mouth feel that stays with you in the form of a long smooth finish that is just sweet enough to be a dessert drink but certainly not syrupy or sugary.

The drink: Jekyll and Hyde Cocktail

The creator: Judd Eskildsen

Judd calls this cocktail a play on their award-winning Reserve Old Fashioned Cocktail, but is quick to mention it uses techniques from Grant Aschatz’ Distilled Cocktail and the Old Fashioned in the Rock, which is served at the legendary Aviary in Chicago. He also warned us ahead of time that it is a flavor-, scent-, and color-changing cocktail that uses a bit of modern kitchen chemistry. Before we arrived for the presentation, he prepared tropical fruit ice spheres that consisted of a concoction created in their rotovap. He used equal parts orange, pineapple and mango juice that was heated to 80 degrees under a vacuum which boiled the water away from the juice leaving a concentrated mixture he injected into a very thin spherical ice mold.

To assemble the drink, he adds two ounces of Proof Minions Barreled Reserve Gin, two bar spoons of simple syrup, a dash of angostura orange bitters and a dash of angostura bitters to ice and stirs for 45 seconds, then strains into a rocks glass with two of his frozen tropical ice spheres in it and then, the magic begins. The first smells and sips are somewhat smoky and full of botanicals and barrel notes from the gin; and the color is fairly light. As the thin ice layer on the outside of the spheres melts and the juice concentrate begins to blend into the drink it transforms into a cloudy, yellow and orange, very juice-forward drink with lovely hints of botanicals, barrel notes, and bitters taking a backseat on a fruit cruise to the finish.

Our second stop has had a liquor license longer than anyone else in the business. The Empire Tavern at 424 North Broadway, is a no-frills, no-nonsense, no-apologies kind of place that is well known to downtown patrons for their generous pours and welcoming attitude. In addition to a complete lack of pretension, the folks at the Empire offer up daily happy hour specials, dart boards, frozen pizzas, and summertime concerts in their parking lot that feature some of the best local bands.

The shot: Apple Crisp ala Mode

The creator: Carrie Schultz

Carrie shakes Dr. McGillicuddy Fireball, Dekuyper Apple Pucker and Rumchata over ice and strains into a simple shot glass. There is a waft of cinnamon and apple on the nose and in the beginning and then a creamy a la mode sensation hits in the middle, before it finishes with a surprisingly nice blend of tart and sweet. To say I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this doesn’t really say enough.

The drink: Summer Energy

The creator: Carrie Schultz

Carrie pulls out the trusty copper mule mugs for this drink and mixes it all up in the mugs. Avion Blanco tequila gets additions of Hangar One Mandarin vodka, Orange Juice and Monster Zero Ultra energy drink before it is stirred with ice and then topped with Stoli ginger beer. The subtlety of the flavors that came in and out with every sip almost made me forget which establishment we were at, and while forgetting where you are is probably not that atypical of an experience at the Empire, this time it was the unexpected and balanced layers of flavor in my drink that was messing with my head.

RECENTLY IN

Cocktail Showdown

Tracker Pixel for Entry SummerReading Tracker Pixel for Entry PeggyLeeDay Tracker Pixel for Entry PeggyLee Tracker Pixel for Entry PeggyLee2 Tracker Pixel for Entry NDCountryFest Tracker Pixel for Entry CollectiveSoul

Recently in:

Alicia Underlee Nelsonalicia@hpr1.com A midnight wedding ceremony at the Clay County Courthouse in Moorhead on August 1, 2013 was more than a romantic gesture. Eighteen couples made history on that day by exchanging vows in the…

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

Our opinion: Has Fargo lost its cool?By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com On April 24, The Forum reported that Zandbroz Variety would be closing its doors after 33 years, and the announcement hit like a ton of books. Upon hearing…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comIs It Possible to Move from a Tent on a Sidewalk to a Garage in the Sky? There have been wealthy people who added a car elevator to the mansion for their Bentleys so they could unload groceries…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.com Musicians in the Fargo-Moorhead area are often supportive of each other. They will attend each other’s shows, collaborate on projects, play as openers for each other, so on and so…

Now playing at the Fargo Theatre.By Greg Carlson gregcarlson1@gmail.comPalme d’Or recipient “Anatomy of a Fall” is now enjoying an award-season victory tour, recently picking up Golden Globe wins for both screenplay and…

By David L. Newellhistory@nd.gov If your Spidey senses are tingling, it may be because Marvelocity: The Art of Alex Ross is coming to the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. The traveling exhibition, developed by the Bess…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Jim Fugliejimfuglie920@gmail.com I am an old man. I have been a politics junkie most of my life. I have been involved in many campaigns, but have not run for office myself. Each time someone has suggested I do that, I tell them…