#ThursdayToursPDX {Cocktails}

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Well hello, December!! Where did the last 11-months go?? Oh yes, parties, work and adventures! And now is the month of even more festivities and celebrations. Obviously, we need to cheers about it. Which brings us to our #ThursdayToursPDX installment - the last guest contributor piece of the year - and the best cocktails in Portland!!

We really brought in the experts in Portland Cocktails for this series - the ladies from Happy Hour Honeys and Alex Frane to share their recommendations! Katie and Kelly are over at Bakery Bingo and Alex is here!

And in case you didn't hear, both Erin and I are hosting some pretty great holiday giveaways!! Be sure to check out both giveaways to enter!

Alex’s Favorite Cocktail Spots, and What to Drink There  
Hi there, I’m Alex, a writer for Drink Portland and the Daily Meal, as well as a blogger. I’m a Portland native, and a food, cocktail, and wine enthusiast. Also, pretty into dogs and cats. I’m excited to be writing this for Thursday Tours PDX!

Eight years ago I tasted a Negroni for the first time. My dad made it for me in his apartment; he had just learned about them and wanted to share it with me. Afterwards, I desperately scoured the town for a bartender who knew what one was. There were a few on the west side (Morgenthaler hadn’t even taken over at Clyde Common yet), less on the east. Two years ago, I attended our first annual Negroni week, which seemingly included every restaurant and bar in town.

My point is, the city has grown up in a big way, and these days it’s rife with cocktail bars. There is no “best place for a cocktail”, but I do have a few favorite spots to drink them. While 80% of the time, I’m hitting up neighborhood and dive bars (Dot’s, The Nest, Landmark Saloon, Devil’s Point... And yeah, that last one is a strip club, welcome to Portland), these are the places I often go for a cocktail, as well as my favorite drink at each place.

The Well Respected Man at Bang Bang
Kate and Alex Wood are my favorite bartending couple in Portland. Aalto Lounge is one of my favorite bars, and is was one of the first bars I really started writing about. I don’t spend as much time there now, as the couple has moved over to their other, newer restaurant, Bang Bang, where they serve awesome curry bowls, other food, and, of course, cocktails. I was able to sample the Well Respected Man at Aalto before they brought it over to Bang Bang, and loved it immediately. It’s kind of like a nutty old-fashioned or Manhattan… Rye, Punt e Mes, and Nocino, which is a walnut liqueur, served over a big ice cube. Super simple, super delicious.

The Fino Countdown at Rum Club
We all know and love Rum Club; it’s one of the most popular and lauded cocktail spots in the city, and helped put rum into the glasses of every bar. While the entire menu is solid, The Fino Countdown is my personal favorite. It’s been on the menu for four years, but I only recently discovered it during an investigation of sherry based cocktails in town, of which it might be the best. Sherry, a blend of rums, Blair Reynold’s Don’s Spices #2, lemon, and bitters all come together to make a rich, herbal, complex, balanced drink. It’s one of those drinks that makes you think, “Maybe there is a reason to go out and not make drinks at home!” as it’s extremely difficult to replicate.

The Daiquiri at Hale Pele
Surprisingly, I prefer the daiquiri at Hale Pele to Rum Club’s (though both are inspiring), and I might prefer it to all the other fun, exciting tiki drinks that adorn the menu here. Blair (of the Don’s Spices #2 mentioned above) manages to make a perfectly crafted daiquiri, which itself is a perfect cocktail, if such a thing exists; just rum, lime, and sugar. I went with my father for his 60ish birthday, and upon trying it, he pronounced it “the best f*@%ing drink in the city”.
Here’s a secret: go on a Tuesday to get it. That’s when Blair pulls down the top-shelf stuff for the “rum of the day”.

The Mint Julep at Raven & Rose
This may be inappropriate for a winter roundup, but I couldn’t omit the mint julep at Raven & Rose. It’s difficult to validate a $14 drink, even more so when it’s a seemingly easy concoction to create at home or find somewhere else. But the julep Tanis Orona made me at the Rookery, R&R’s upstairs bar, is simply better than any other I have ever had. Part of that is due to the single barrel bourbon hand picked for the drink—A spicy, rich, overproof bourbon, the Knob Creek 120 Proof Raven & Rose Single Barrel stands up perfectly to the heaps of crushed ice and gently muddled mint. A delicate sprig of freshly spanked mint, a light dusting of sugar, and a mist of Peychaud bitters finish off this cocktail. It’s enough to make you long for 90 degree days again.

The Kingpin at Bit House Saloon
Bit House has received a lot of amazing press in its first few months of life. The Oregonian called it the best new bar in Portland. Eater voters awarded the owner/manager Jesse Card bartender of the year. And Drink Portland gave it a glowing, well-written review *cough*.
There’s a pretty clear trend in what I like to drink. The Kingpin has Nocino and whiskey, like the Well Respected Man, but also sherry and spices, like the Fino Countdown. However, the bourbon is infused with smoked figs, and there’s the addition of Hennessy and walnut bitters. While I’m normally quick to write off a drink with too many ingredients, this one is remarkably well balanced and delicious.

All images courtesy of Alexander Frane

#ThursdayToursPDX is a collaborative series between Portland, OR bloggers {Erin} Bakery Bingo + {Meredith} Martha Chartreuse. In a city filled with amazing restaurants, artisan experiences, and fantastic tastemakers the inside scoop is a must. We will be asking our friends and fellow bloggers for their recommendations and tips for all the City of Roses has to offer.

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