Portland filmmaker shakes up ‘playful’ cocktail of history and alcohol

David S. Mayne’s recently launched “Happy Hour History” explores the origins of various cocktails and how they relate to major events in human history.

David S Mayne happy hour history portland pdx

Host David S. Mayne dons costumes for each episode of “Happy Hour History.”

Photo courtesy of David S. Mayne/Happy Hour History

The Scofflaw. The Moscow Mule. The Bee’s Knees. All of these cocktails have something in common: origins closely tied to major events in human history. Portland filmmaker David S. Mayne wants to tell you all about them on a spirited trip through time.

To do so, David recently launched a series available on Amazon Prime and Tubi called “Happy Hour History.” With a drink in his hand, he briefly sets the stage for a historical event (think: the Battle of Moscow or the early women’s rights movement) and explains how the events of the time paved the way for an alcoholic beverage still enjoyed today.

If the concept reminds you of a certain series in which increasingly-inebriated hosts reenact historical events, well, David set the record straight. “We’re ‘Drunk History’s’ nerdy cousin,” he said, adding that multiple university professors vet the content. “Even though I sip cocktails throughout the show, we don’t progressively start changing history. I do think it’s important to stick to the facts — they’re far more interesting.”

On the flip side, “Happy Hour History” deviates from traditional historical documentaries by not only incorporating something many people enjoy (read: alcohol), but also by making the information easier to consume through humor, animation, and costumes (the Oregon Shakespeare Festival provided the clothes David wears in the pilot) — in a style David describes as “quirky, a little bit irreverent, playful.”

Happy Hour HIstory PDX portland

A taste of what you’ll see in Episode 1, “Scotch & Don’t Drink the Water.”

Photo courtesy of David S. Mayne/Happy Hour History

Each of the five episodes concludes with an award-winning bartender teaching viewers how to make the beverages at home. You may recognize some of the featured guests, like Palomar owner Ricky Gomez and Portland mixologist Nathan Gerdes, and the filming locations (Bible Club, Scotch Lodge, Raven & Rose).

You can support the show by watching it online, leaving a review, and attending a live screening on Saturday, April 29, 6-8:30 p.m., at Trail Distilling’s tasting room in Oregon City. David already has more episodes written and ready to pour.

As for David’s favorite cocktail? That would be The Last Word, a gin-based beverage made with lime juice, green Chartreuse, and Maraschino cherry liqueur. He gave PDXtoday an exclusive history lesson on his drink of choice.

“It was invented at the Detroit Athletic Club [in 1915]. The interesting thing is that it has a Northwest connection because it kind of fell apart, but it was revived in the early 2000s in Seattle by a bartender named Murray Stenson,” he said. “Personally, I love Chartreuse — yellow and green. They’re just these amazing liquors made by Carthusian monks. The recipe is secret. It’s only passed on by word of mouth. It’s not written down anywhere. It’s got like 60 different herbs and elements in it that make this drink — now, it’s like impossible to find.

“What I love about the drink is that you get the herbal stuff from the gin, but then you get this added herbal complexity and a little bit of sweetness from the Chartreuse. The Maraschino adds another sweet kind of cherry but nuttiness because it’s made with cherry kernels, too, and then the tartness from the lime. So it’s just a wonderfully balanced cocktail that’s got a lot going on.”

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