By Nancy Tannler


Back in 2004 Tom Burkleaux and Mathew Van Winkle, friends from Reed College days, assessed the recession beginning to happen around the nation and it got them to thinking:

If there’s one thing people don’t want to do without in hard times, themselves included, it was the occasional cocktail. Their choice of beverage was vodka–not just any vodka though–but really good stuff.

Tom Burkleaux

Tom Burkleaux

So the two came up with a plan and they experimented with distilling their own vodka. It became so successful they opened New Deal Distillery.

That’s the short version of an endeavor that required hours of research and experimentation, obtaining and paying for all the licenses, building a clientele and finding a good location.

They’ve recently moved into the New Deal Distillery offering Spirits & Distillery Workshops and a Tasting Room, at 900 SE Salmon St.

On December 14, the distillery celebrates both ten years in business and  the 4th Annual Season’s Eatings: A Benefit for the Oregon Food Bank, from 12 pm – 6 pm.

It is a holiday bazaar that brings together local food and drink artisans to showcase the area’s finest chocolates, cheeses, spirits and foodstuffs.

Proceeds benefit the Oregon Food Bank and admission to the event is one non-perishable food item per guest. The public is welcome to attend.

Since the inception of the New Deal Vodka, they’ve added eight other beverages plus a special known as the Distiller’s Workshop where you can buy brandies, small-batch rums, white dogs, moonshines, and other specialty craft spirits. The Distiller’s Workshop Series is only available in small batches throughout the year.

New Deal Vodka, their flagship vodka, was crafted as a sipping vodka although it can be used in any cocktail. The Portland 88 was inspired by Burkleaux and Van Winkle’s nod to Portland in the eighties when they were young men full of vim and vigor and in love with the City of Roses.

Steve Brown, owner of Madison’s Bar & Grill  serves up some New Deal

Steve Brown, owner of Madison’s Bar & Grill
serves up some New Deal

Its 88-proof recipe delivers a swift kick for those who like to taste the drink in their drink. They partnered with Theo’s chocolate of Seattle and created the chocolate infused Mudpuddle vodka.

The  New Deal Distillery is one of five local distilleries located in the area. They offer a Distillery Row Passport for $20 so you can access the tastings and tours at all Distillery Row locations (waives basic tasting fees)


For more information visit their website at, or call 503.234.2513.