Photo and Words by Alicia James
Autumn creeps in on padded feet. Elongated shadows and cooler nights announce its September arrival. The moon hangs fat over the horizon in October. Turned leaves pop brilliant colors from foggy skies come November. While Pinterest heats up with pumpkin spice lattes, my thoughts trend brown liquor in all its forms: whiskey, bourbon, and scotch. How better to evoke fall than to imbibe the essence of fire, peat, and leather? With my first head cold of the season in tow, I visited a trio of Corvallis bars to see what they’re slinging as the temperatures drop.
Breaking a Sweat at Cloud & Kelly’s
“That sounds like a fun Saturday night,” remarked a lone dude with a beer.
Kinky sex jokes aside, the drink is a warming blend of whiskey, hot apple cider, cinnamon, clove, and a dash of butterscotch. Unlike other buttered drinks, Cloud & Kelly’s concoction holds back on cloying sugar and that weird, greasy mouthfeel that happens when amateurs try to make their own butterscotch. Instead, tinctures add necessary roundness while the apple cider provides crisp sweetness. Jameson’s whiskey is the star of the cocktail, and proves once again to have restorative properties. After swilling herbal tea in a futile effort to sweat out the sick, I was suddenly fanning myself like a menopausal woman.
Take Two at Clodfelter’s
Contrary to the old Irish saying, whiskey isn’t a cure-all. It just makes you think you feel better. After 10 nights of Nyquil shots, I wandered over to Clodfelter’s to see what campus is drinking.
Gary Evans, bartender of 15 years, was busy serving burgers and drinks to former soldiers for the bar’s $5 Veteran’s Day special, but he was kind enough to brew a fresh pot of joe for a smashing Irish coffee. Clodfelter’s serves theirs with Jameson’s whiskey, Carolans Irish Cream liqueur, and whipped cream if you so desire. I passed on the dairy decoration, expecting a face full of sticky sweet from Irish cream liqueur. Much to my surprise, it was a pleasantly warm toasty taste far removed from the horror of Bailey’s.
Clodfelter’s does a superb hot chocolate with Carolans and Rumple Minze if coffee isn’t your thing. Evans also recommends their concoction of apple cider and Tuaca. Neither drink is too strong, which is perfect for late afternoon imbibing between classes.
Something Completely Different at Red Fox Café
As much as I enjoyed shooting the breeze with Corvallis’ old school over at Clodfelter’s, Red Fox Café was calling. This newish campus joint has an extensive liquor selection, including esoterica such as Aperol and my favorite, Lagavulin 12-year-old scotch. My instinct was to just order the latter, neat, then claim it was the bar’s most popular fall beverage. Research ethics prevailed, and I asked the bartender. In response, he poured a pint of 10 Barrel Brewing Company’s Small Tank Series Oatmeal Stout. This nitrogen-charged brew pulls thick and creamy with a slight fermented tang, and is as dark as 5:30 p.m. after daylight saving time ends. It doesn’t warm your bones in the same way liquor does, but this inky pint would pair perfectly with that aforementioned Lagavulin if you wanted to linger among the leaves on Red Fox’s gorgeous patio.