Absolut vodka, fresh raspberry purée, vermouth and a sprig of mint? Delicious.

Here we are ladies and gents, Portland Cocktail Week is off and running with three full days of demonstrations, seminars, and flat-out revelry, all designed to educate, elucidate, and entertain industry professionals and nervous novices alike. Last night international spirit producer Pernod Ricard hosted the kick-off party at Portland jazz club Wilf’s. The train station destination proved to be an ideal gathering spot for the wave of boisterous bartenders arriving for the weekend. Since many of them participated in the “party train” down from Seattle, they were a little ahead of the rest of us.

Pernod brand ambassador Simon Ford manned the bar throughout the evening pouring a wicked assortment of classic cocktails. A three-piece jazz band provided an elegant soundtrack for the night, especially when King Cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff, sang a number with the group later in the evening. Who knew he could sing?

As brand reps, event volunteers, booze bloggers, and visiting bartenders milled about talking shop, the action was clearly centered around—where else?—the bar. Go figure.
Tickets are still available for tonight’s parties:

Lola’s Room at the Crystal Ballroom will be hosting Yacht Rocking for some 80s-soaked karaoke featuring a live backing band to help you feel like the pop star you dreamed of being. Tickets are $40.

Ketel One is hosting a Vodka and Caviar Midnight Toast with Diageo master mixologist Elayne Duke. Dust off the pearls and pull out that tuxedo that’s been collecting dust for some time, it’s time to get fancy. Entrance is $40.