Day 1 of Portland Cocktail Week
I may have lied when I said my first cocktail of the day was at Beaker & Flask when I rolled into Portland for Portland Cocktail Week. It was actually an old fashioned at Doug Fir, the bar and music venue attached to Jupiter Hotel. Having been to PDX a few different times and somehow always ending up at Doug Fir for either a quick drink before a show, I knew it wasn’t really a “craft cocktail” bar but it was a nice lounge and place to meet up with people.
I met Charlie from Windmill Lounge in Dallas at the bar. I would later meet many bar owners and bartenders from around the country- world, really so the Doug Fir served as a club house for PDXCW.
After a quick bite at Beaker & Flask, we went next door to Rum Club. There bar manager Mike Shea was behind the stick. I talked with him about a couple of drinks I had in mind but then my eyes landed on Fawn Hall (Flor de Cana 4 & 7 year rums, Campari, Bonal, orange twist). I had a good chat with him about Doug Fir where he managed for years. He said he left just when he managed to train them not shake the Manhattans. Ha!
I enjoyed the Fawn Hall as well as the other drink I had there a few days later during the Cocktail GoGo bar crawl.
Alas, we had to go back to the hotel- I needed to change for the opening party at Wilf’s at Union Station. Otherwise, I’d like to have tried these cocktails:
Rum Club Daiquiri– Barcadi 8 aged rum, lime, sugar, maraschino, Angostura bitters, absinthe (say what? absinthe!)
The Avondale– cachaca, Cynar, egg white, pineapple gomme, lemon, bitters
Exes and Ohs– Cruzan blackstrap rum, Cardamaro, Root, vanilla, nutmeg– Mike said this would have been too sweet for me, how did he know I am not fond of sweet drinks?
Rum Club also does flights and again, if only I had more time…
Portland Cocktail Week was kicked off by a party at the jazz-themed Wilf’s. It was sponsored by Pernod Ricard which brought their portfolio of products including Plymouth Gin and Beefeater Gin. I asked the bartender at the first station which he preferred and he pointed to the Beefeater 24 which I had with tonic.
I had missed the 70+ bartenders arriving at the station from Seattle but I mused I was glad I wasn’t on that train. I had a lovely time exploring nearby Beaker & Flask and Rum Club. It was cool though to see many of the bartenders I just met in Seattle along with hanging out with LA and SF bartenders I knew.
I wandered into a side room where a bartender Hal from New York was making — I was about to ask when interrupted by a to be unnamed LA bartender– “just drink this.” And there you have it, the main drive of PDX Cocktail Week- drinking whatever was in front of you. It was nice, very botanical.
There were rumors of negronis from Erick Castro but I happened upon this lovely punch at a table wo-manned by Vivienne Vavoom (I later officially met her the next night at the DonQ Yacht Rock party before her burlesque show).
And then we were off. On to the double decker bus to Mary’s!
Portland is known for its many strip clubs and since they are not zoned, they’re everywhere in Portland. At nearby Mary’s, they’ve never had male bartenders behind the bar. Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Erick Castro were given the honor that night. It was hectic, crowded and nearly impossible to get in. I eventually made it in but knew the bar was slammed and it seemed about 40 deep. So, I settled in a chair (sorry guys, no photography inside the club) and watched the “show.” After a few long minutes, I quietly got up and exited through the taco shop next door. It would seem Mary’s wasn’t quite for me.
Can a double decker bus be a bartender? It sure is when outfitted with a steampunkish ‘stache.
Day 1 was complete and I felt welcomed into the bosom (maybe not literally, sorry Mary’s) of Portland Cocktail Week!