these juniper berries pour like sparkling jewels …

I like my drink.

I like the old flames to whom I always return after passages of time: Bombay Sapphire gin. Old Overholt rye whiskey. Anchor Steam. Boundary Bay IPA. Black Butte porter. Any microbrew from Deschutes Brewery.

I also like mixin' it up — in part because it keeps the palate alive, sharp, perceptive. I also abhor a rut. And am, plain and simple, an adventurous girl.

Here's what's goin' down on this peaceful and dark Sunday night.

The time arrived for a new bottle of gin. In front of the shelves I stood, surveying a less-than-overwhelming selection. I spotted mon amores, Sapphire and Tanqueray.

Yet I thirsted for adventure, a flavor unknown, a taste sensation to complement the springtime senses.

So I hemmed and hawed. Hemmed and hawed some more. Ruled out the cheapies, the rotgut. And on a whim — or is that studied whimsey? — I opted for the local creation.

I've never heard of Cascade Mountain gin, crafted by Bendistillery in Bend, Oregon. The same little (or not so little any longer) town that hosts my endearing Deschutes Brewery.

The label touts the distillery's use of hand-picked juniper berries, the essence of gin, "from the heart of the largest juniper forest in the world." That would be, according to its Web site, in Oregon.

What have I got to lose except a skosh over a 20 and a lil' piece of my liver?

Ladies and gentleman, I share this first drink, bare from the bottle, of Cascade Mountain gin, bottle 50 from batch 232, penned in black ink by another's hand on a strip sealing the cap.

So here goes, without further ado, without hope, without expectation, with only an-ti-ci….pation …

A powerful burst of aroma popping as the cork is released. A scent of alcohol. No wonder, it's 95 proof.

Poured into the glass, the aroma dissipates into one of a simple gin, fragrant but not overly floral.

For its relaxed floral scent, the taste is quite the double-take surprise. It packs a punch with a pronounced sharp and tangy dryness.

The tongue needs to seek out the berries of juniper; they don't simply walk in the door announcing themselves. That sharp dryness lingers … lingers … then evaporates like the smoke during a magician's trick into the cavern and roof of the mouth.

Another sip held, studied, then allowed to cascade down the throat.

The second sip is better than the first, a delightful and unique phenomenon. It is because the first sip has awakened the palette … warmed it … prepared it to receive the fuller experience the next sip 'round. There is an image of a receiving blanket, blue, that wraps around an infant who will be passed to a mother.

I think I like this gin; I'm not entirely sure. It's the type that grows on you. It's not especially complex; it lacks the incredible and subtle melange of juniper, herbs and spices of its compatriots. Yet it is mystifying. Intriguing. Inviting.

Perhaps above all, it is an evocative drink … one to which you return … a sort befitting the midnight hour and a soft yet well-articulated rapping at a door. On the other side a handsome man? A lovely lady? A secret suitor who has come calling?

After one, possibly two more sips of the glistening Cascade Mountain gin, you open the door to find out …

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