How about a little analogy question to start things off:
Cacti are to Arizona as _______ are to Oregon.
Well, this little exercise was flawed to begin with being as you’ve most likely read the title of this piece, but you get the idea: the connection between Oregon and juniper is a strong one. Though it may just seem like a piney northwest tree and berry, juniper embodies most of what makes Oregon as amazing as it is.
How so? Read on, friends.
1. Pacific Northwest Nature
Juniper trees cover an expansive 6.5 million acres of Oregon’s landscape and are a large part of what make up the beautiful natural views we’ve come to love about the state. The trees and berries compose an integral part of the state’s scenic makeup, especially in the rugged soils and slopes of central and eastern Oregon that make for phenomenal views and even better hikes. All of this pairs perfectly with the adventurous nature of the region.
2. Foodie Culture
The state of Oregon, Portland in particular, has become a key player in the game of serious food culture. With such a focus on using high-quality, local and sustainable ingredients, some of the West’s best chefs and eats come straight from the state. With this, juniper berries are used frequently in dishes as a meat rub or extra seasoning to add a crisp, sharp, earthy flavor. Tasting juniper berry in a freshly prepared cut of local Oregon pork really solidifies the connection as Oregon and foodies go hand in hand.
3. Local Mixology
Paired as deliciously as the perfect cocktail with a delicious meal, mixology and local distilleries are also mainstays in the state and help make Oregon a unique place in the cocktail world. An even closer pairing, juniper berries are an integral part of the distillation process for gin and are responsible for its distinct flavor. Without the vast coverage of juniper trees in Oregon, we might not have such greats as Desert Juniper or HOUSE Spirits Distillery’s Aviation Gin. That’s a world we would not want to live in, that’s for sure.
So thank you, good juniper: you and Oregon help bring out the very best in one another, which is something we all get to benefit from.