Alaska News

How Alaska Eats: Make the historic Alaska cocktail (and other local food notes)

Alaskans know how to eat. Find another place where people are better at DIY food (hunting it, fishing it, picking it; schlepping it on airplanes, ATVs, snow machines, kayaks, in backpacks; butchering it, cleaning it, smoking it, freezing it, preserving it). You can't. To eat at our tables is to understand our culture. (Home cooking is another area where we excel.) This new newsletter is a place for all things Alaska food. Send your feedback, Alaska food ideas and questions!

Newsletter 1: #GinResearch

This summer I'm spending some time at Anchorage Museum, putting together a book about how Alaskans eat. Part of that means testing Alaska recipes.

Ask bartenders around town and they'll tell you that a recent New York Times story about a golden, pre-Prohibition version of the martini, called the Alaska, made bar-goers all over ask for the drink. Now it seems like everybody is making it and adding their own twists.

On a recent very nice day, I decided that maybe it would make sense to try to make The Alaska using local gin. I settled on a contest between two fantastic gins from Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines and Amalga Distillery in Juneau. (Very important #ginresearch.)

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The result was: I couldn't pick. Instead, I ended up with two versions of a truly glorious summer cocktail. I also learned that the Alaska cocktail isn't Alaska-made at all. (Read about that and find both cocktail recipes.)


And, if you make that, maybe you'd like to make a little something to go with it? Salmon is still pretty spendy (and the heartbreaking Copper River fishing closure likely won't help that), but whole halibut has been a decent deal, at just around $10 a pound at local seafood markets. Where have you found the best deal on fish?

Kim Sunee also has a great recipe for fried green tomatoes, which go pretty well with gin. For dessert, maybe you'd like to face that rhubarb plant in the backyard and try Maya Wilson's rhubarb almond coffee cake? (Did you hear Maya is going to be the chef at a new restaurant, Addie Camp, in Kenai?)

In other food news, East Anchorage people, you now have a farmer's market on Muldoon, says our market columnist Steve Edwards (lots of other farmer's market news in his column, as always). And, there's now an app to help you eat local.

[Find more recipes and food news in the ADNF Food and Drink section.]

From the subsistence foods desk, here's a fun video from one of my favorite Alaska Native foods documenters, Flora Rexford in Kaktovik, of wild bird cleaning in hyper speed.

Posted by Flora M. Rexford on Friday, June 15, 2018

Finally: if you're interested in Alaska recipes with historic roots, join my recipe testing group here. We're noodling on sourdough pancakes and rhubarb crisp at the moment. I'm going to be sharing these recipes as I write them.

Thanks for reading. Have a cocktail?


Julia O'Malley

Anchorage-based Julia O'Malley is a former ADN reporter, columnist and editor. She received a James Beard national food writing award in 2018, and a collection of her work, "The Whale and the Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing, and Community in Alaska," was published in 2019. She's currently a guest curator at the Anchorage Museum.