Northwest Travel & Life: Spring Escapes to Portland’s Eastside Industrial District

21 02 2017

In the latest issue of Northwest Travel & Life, I recommend things to do and places to eat and drink in one of Portland’s more explorable new districts. From the article:

“Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID) was once devoid of coveted urban treasures like authentic ethnic cuisine, craft cocktails, and coffee roasters. But just like the Pearl District before it, thanks to Portlanders’ genius at repurposing stuff, like neighborhoods, the CEID is now teeming with food, drink, and entertainment hotspots. As Portland’s famous roses bloom in spring, the streets are once again enlivened with cyclists and pedestrians, hopeful with the promise of sunshine and patio seating. Come curious, come hungry, come thirsty, and be ready to indulge in one of Portland’s coolest new destination neighborhoods. Here are our picks for a perfect CEID getaway.”

Click here to read the PDF version. Photo courtesy of Noraneko.



Professional Gentleman of Leisure Facebook Page

26 11 2012

I now have a Facebook page where I will be posting all sorts of pics and stories from my travel assignments and guidebook research. Click here to check it out and give it a “like” if you would be so kind.



Central Oregon Coast Press Trip: Day 4

19 09 2012

We checked out of the Elizabeth Street Inn in Newport and made our way up the Yaquina Bay Road towards Toledo. Thanks to the prodding of an as of yet only marginally caffeinated Roy, we stopped at the Oregon Oyster Farms for an unplanned and unannounced visit. And owner Xin Liu (call him Lou) couldn’t have been happier to see us. He gave us a tour of the facility and we witnessed some Olympic level oyster shucking. He even sent us on our way with a tub of smoked oysters for our trouble. If the opportunity ever presents itself, I recommend traveling the Oregon Coast with Lucy Gibson sometime and see what kind of doors swing open.

We got back on the road and made our way to what was the official first stop of the day at SolaLuna Studios, an art gallery in Toledo. We were met by owners and artists, Sarah Gayle and Wayne Plourde. We were also met by a group of local artists whose work was currently on display in the gallery. This was a real treat. Not only were we allowed to browse the gallery and chat with the actual artists, they made us a pot luck style brunch to enjoy while we perused some of the finest art the Central Coast has to offer. I don’t know who was responsible for it, but if art doesn’t work out for whoever made than green chile breakfast bake, keep your mind open to a café of some sort. We spent a good amount of time here as the art and the hospitality were very conducive to a relaxed and enjoyable visit. Plus Wayne’s visiting daughter was enchanting (sorry Wayne).

We eventually said our goodbyes and were lead to the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Historical Society. We were greeted by a mix of staff and volunteers that where as passionate as they where knowledgeable about the history of the railroad. One volunteer in particular, Leonard, looked as though he was born to disseminate tales of the trains. The YPRHS is housed in a couple of old train cars and was remarkably interesting and informative. The interpretive displays contained historic artifacts and photos that were only complimented by the factoids and stories provided by the staff. It’s places like this that fascinate me. They constantly struggle for funding despite their historical, educational, and cultural importance. I would encourage you to visit.

Now it was time for lunch. And based on the mood of the group, Lucy once again called an audible. We were treated to BBQ and Micro Brew at Pig Feathers. I had a flight of their own Twisted Snout Brewery beers and some epic pulled pork. Toledo, Oregon is doing something right. It’s small and charming with exponentially better food, beer, and culture than a place of its size would normally lend itself to. That’s called best of both worlds and they are killing it.

After lunch our time in Toledo had come to an end. We headed down the coast again to the small town of Yachats. This is where things get luxurious. We checked into the Overleaf Lodge and Spa. Sounds like a place you would want to stay, right? Well it is! Click on that hyperlink and take a look. Missed it the first time? Here it is again. The Lodge was beautiful, adorned with magnificent, one of a kind pieces of art. The Spa was as soothing and peaceful as any I have had the privilege of stepping into. But the stretch of beach that the Overleaf cozies up against is quite literally breathtaking. When we got there, the weather wasn’t exactly lending itself to photography, so what I got was painful considering just how good it was. And there are hiking paths! The historic 804 Trail runs right between the property and the beach. And my room had a whirlpool tub! And it was right on the beach, well they all are as it turns out, but I was in one of them!

I actually didn’t want to leave, but eventually it was dinner time and in hindsight I’m glad I made the trek. We went to the Drift Inn Family Restaurant and Pub. The place had great live music that was at the perfect volume level to still have dinner conversation. We chose entrees from one of the furthest reaching, eclectic menus I can recall having placed in front of me. Normally when a place does that I’m scared. But they pulled it off. We all had very different meals and all of them turned out great. How do I know? I sampled from everybody’s plate. This was day 4 and we were family now. The Drift Inn also boasts one of the most charismatic, camera aware barkeeps alive. Check her out. I was lining up a shot at the bar and I swear she was going about her business and not paying me a lick of attention. Then a split second before the shutter clicks – there she is. Head perfectly tilted with a killer smile. Well played Madame. We left the Drift Inn stuffed to the gills and retired to our rooms at the Overleaf. It was time for some wine and whirlpool tub action for yours truly. Check out the next day would be at 8:30.

Central Oregon Coast Press Trip: Day 2

22 06 2012

Day 2 started out with breakfast in the same spot I chose to end the previous evening; at the MIST Restaurant. Though this morning, I would be in the actual restaurant and avoid the lounge altogether. We were joined by Revelle Lewis, Sales Manager for Surftides Lincoln City. Revelle was a joy to talk to. She detailed the history of the hotel and the renovations done to the property. As good as breakfast conversation was, I struggled to avert my attention anywhere except on the Crab Cake Benedict and house-made sausage that I was squaring up on. I really liked this place. So much so, I already have plans to go back in September.

We bid adieu to Revelle and Surftides and headed for the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio. The original plan that morning was to go out to the beach after breakfast and go glass float hunting……Where by an incredible press tour-induced stroke of luck, we would happen upon glass floats. The weather that morning was less than agreeable so Lucy did what Lucy does, and arranged for us to go to an actual art studio and blow glass floats for ourselves. We were met at the studio by Sandy Pfaff, Executive Director of the Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau, Katera Woodbridge, Interactive Marketing Manager for the same bureau, and Artist, Kelly Howard.

Back story: glass floats have been prized finds for beachcombers in the Northwest for quite sometime. Japanese and Korean fisherman once used handmade glass floats for their nets, occasionally the nets and or floats would break free and make their way across the Pacific Ocean and end up on our beaches. The practice of making glass fishing floats is now a rarity in Japan and Korea but every now and then, a real one shows up on the shores of Oregon. What’s less rare now are ornate, vibrantly hued, handmade glass floats created by local artists being spotted on the beach. It’s like the ultimate Easter egg hunt, and people take it seriously. On this day, I had the pleasure of blowing my own glass float. Well kind of. I was given a heavy amount of help and tutelage from the lovely and talented Kelly Howard. Since a greenhorn glass blower is more likely to produce a molten, mis-shapened blob or burn down the place, the amount of help given was necessary and appreciated. I got the finished product in the mail a couple of weeks ago and it rocks! I’m 98% sure it’s better than the one that Roy made.

We went from glass blowing to shopping. We visited the Tanger Outlets in Lincoln City. General Manager, Diane Kusz, gave us the layout of the place and a swag bag containing a discount book. We were off to enjoy an hour of independent shopping. If I recall correctly, we all benefited from this. I learned from my first press trip that you should really bring an additional piece of luggage to tote back items picked up along the way. I might not be the sharpest tool in the box, but I can learn a lesson. And having extra luggage, especially when they let you loose in an outlet mall, is a valuable one.

Next up was lunch at Fathoms Restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Head. Once again we were joined by Sandy and Katera. Roy Fact #2: If you’re a rookie travel writer on a trip with Roy Stevenson, expect to get hazed. Roy is insistent that you earn your stripes. Upon learning of my recently attained bachelor status, it became Roy’s mission in life to “hook me up”, as it were. He insisted that I sit next to, converse with, or propose marriage to any female within 20 years of my own age that didn’t have a ring on her finger. I typically don’t embarrass easy, but I’ll admit that Roy got me a few times. At lunch the incredibly patient Katera was Roy’s chosen Adam Target. Much to my pleasure, she took everything he said with a grain of salt and chopped him at the knees when necessary.

Lunch was fantastic by the way. The views from the restaurant where as good as any I’ve encountered on the coast during a meal and the Spanish Salad I had was remarkable. I once again tried to order “light”, but a salad with grilled chicken, almonds, green olives, piquillo peppers, Manchego cheese, croutons, and creamy piquillo pepper dressing ensured I ate every bite and dang near licked the plate. Oh well.

Then it was time for glass blowing. “Again?” you say. Yes, but this time instead of rookies fumbling around a studio, we were going to watch a true artist in action. Buzz Williams owns and operates Alder House III, and he was mesmerizing to watch. His glass blowing studio and residence sit next to each other in an otherworldly chunk of forest that might as well be straight out of a Tolkien novel. At the risk of getting too steamy for a blog post, Buzz coddles, maneuvers, and takes on molten glass like a skilled and caring lover. If it sounds odd, visit a glass blowing studio sometime. These places are chock full of double entendres. Allusions to lovemaking aside, this was a great stop. I never really paid attention to glass art before, but this day in Lincoln City has converted me into an appreciative fan of the art form.

After visiting with Buzz, we left to check in at the Salishan Spa and Golf Resort, our home for the evening. The grounds at the Salishan where as enchanting as the forest that Buzz Williams calls home. I would have to scope out the place later because we had only a few minutes to freshen up before leaving for the Beachcombers Haven. The Beachcombers Haven offers vacation rentals on a prime spot of Gleneden Beach. It was in one of these charming beach front units that we met the proprietor of Beachcombers, Alyce Thomson, and Owner Operator of the Flying Dutchman Winery, Dick Cutler. We were going to do a little wine tasting and chat about their respective businesses. For me, this was one of the highlights of the entire trip. Sure the wine was great and the beach view was stunning. But Alyce and Dick are world class. Alyce is a spitfire source of enigmatic energy with a quick wit and a sharp tongue. Dick is mellow, smooth, and has a glimmer in his eye that lead me to believe he’s seen and done more good living than I’ll ever sniff at, and there’s a whole lot more to come. I want to be Dick when I grow up. Combined, the two friends formed a chocolate and peanut butter-esque conversation team that was inviting, engaging, and infectious.

After much wine and chatter it was time for dinner. As an added bonus Alyce and Dick chose to join us. Dinner was at the Surfrider Restaurant and Lounge at the Surfrider Resort in Depoe Bay. Apparently the theme of the day was “Try to eat while nature’s splendor smacks you in the face”. The view from the Surfrider Restaurant was on par with the view from the Fathoms Restaurant, only now it was sunset…..and whales where swimming by…..and Allen gave me an assignment for Northwest Travel Magazine….and I’m eating scallops……and Dick was sitting next to me! Good gravy this day was cutting my way. I left dinner full and rosy cheeked. When we got back to Salishan, I decided to explore the grounds. Resorts like these are fun to just walk around in. Somehow my exploration lead to the Attic Lounge for a nightcap. The bar was amazing. So far the Central Oregon Coast is setting the bar really high in many aspects, not the least of which is lounge quality. The Attic was another super cozy, warm, uber-relaxing venue with top notch drinks. I was lucky enough to be joined by Lucy and Allen for a drink and then it was back to the room. Checkout the next morning was 8:15 am.

Central Oregon Coast Press Trip: Day 1

6 06 2012

Can you imagine the luck? Just a couple months after the North Oregon Coast Press Trip finished and my perma-smile began to dissipate, I had the honor of being invited back for the Central Oregon Coast trip. And it was a reunion of sorts. Once again Lucy Gibson, Public Relations Director for the Central Oregon Coast Association, was riding shotgun. Guide, Tracie Driver, from NorthWest EcoExcursions was back behind the wheel of the tour van. And I was very pleased to see Editor of Northwest Travel Magazine / Press Trip Poobah, Allen Cox, back as well. It was to be a much smaller group this time around though. In addition to Allen and me, the only other writer along for the journey was travel writer extraordinaire, Roy Stevenson. I had never had the privilege of making Roy’s acquaintance before, but did he ever announce his presence with authority. And it was far from a bad thing. Roy is a Kiwi with a larger-than-life personality and only one speed; a speed that manages to kick into overdrive with the addition of sugar and caffeine. Roy is capable of leading even the most pious individual down a path of press tour induced, middle-aged skullduggery. I love him. The “Code of the Road” prevents me from divulging too much, but I can assure you that nothing transpired that Mrs. Stevenson wouldn’t approve of, save for the sugar and caffeine intake.

Tracie, Allen, Roy, and I all met at the Shilo Inns Portland Airport Suites Hotel and headed south. We met Lucy in Depoe Bay at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center. We visited briefly with a pair of delightful volunteers, Fred & Betty Robison, before crossing the street for lunch. Roy Fact #1: Don’t get him started on World War 2. Roy writes about all sorts of non-travel related topics, and WW2 is one of them. When he found out that Fred was in the war, he was all over it.

We eventually got to the Spouting Horn Restaurant for lunch. The view of Depoe Bay was fantastic, as was my BLT and cup of chowder. Tracie and I frequently end up seated next to each other for meals. After just now working off the additional chin I garnered from the last trip, Tracie and I agreed to try and order “lighter” meals whenever possible this trip. The half sandwich and cup of soup was a great start. We’ll see how it goes.

After lunch we walked across the street to the Whale Watching Center. We actually saw whales! The center is under renovation, but there are still a number of great exhibits to peruse. Plus there are binoculars and a great vantage for spotting whales.

We watched whales for about a half an hour and then something odd happened. We had free time. On the last trip, our itinerary was packed to the gills. I don’t recall any complaints, however. It’s really hard to die from an overdose of awesome. That being said, I would typically pass out the second my head hit the pillow. On this day though, we were given an hour to just stroll about and visit the wonderful shops of Depoe Bay. It was great. I bought an ice cream cone and took a bunch of pictures.

Done with shopping, we headed for the stylishly refurbished Surftides Lincoln City, our lodging for the evening. Man was this place fantastic. And not just because of the bottles of wine and meat and cheese tray they had waiting for me in my room. They have outside fire pits, fresh baked cookies in the lobby, super comfy beds, and a killer bar and lounge attached to the restaurant, MIST. I had enough time to freshen up and drink some wine before making my way back down to the van to leave for dinner.

Dinner was at the Chinook Winds Casino Resort, in the Rogue River Steakehouse, and it was impressive. We where met by Teresa Simmons, Public Relations Assistant Manager for the Casino, who was excellent company. She detailed the role that the Casino plays in the community, as well as some of the finer points of the Resort itself. We were treated to several delicious appetizers and then I received one of the best tasting, best plated orders of scallops that have ever been placed in front of my face.

After dinner we headed back to the Surftides where I explored the grounds and went to take pictures of the bar. It’s important to cover all angles when you visit these places. Just don’t ask me for pictures of very many exercise rooms. All kidding aside though, the bar was cozy, and had a stunning view. I hung out for a drink or three, went back to the room, and called it a night. Breakfast was scheduled for 8:30 am.

Happy Hour: Sidecar 11

27 05 2012

If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy to walk right past one of the best bars in North Portland. The space occupied by Sidecar 11 is no wider than the entrance to a prohibition-era speakeasy. Like their drinks, however, the space is deep, sophisticated, and well thought out.

I met Sidecar 11 owner, John Cooper, and bartender, Erin, a couple of weeks ago for drinks and a set of appetizers. Admittedly, I had been to Sidecar 11 several times before this visit. Not just because their drinks are top notch, but also because their happy hour food menu is delicious and inexpensive. What I hadn’t realized prior to this visit though, was the fact that John doesn’t have a kitchen. He has a refrigerator, a small area for dry goods, and a convection oven down at the far end of the bar. But instead of viewing this as a hindrance, John saw the unconventional setup as an open invitation to get creative. And while he did his thing at one end of the bar, Erin was doing hers at the other.

The first drink that Erin produced was the Mississippi Sidecar. This interpretation of the old standard contains brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon, served up with a sugar rim. I should mention that Erin created the drink menu at Sidecar 11. A fact that might explain why she produced each of my drinks with the care and attention to detail that a mother might lavish upon her children on the first day of school. Think I’m exaggerating? Order any of her original menu drinks and tell me I’m wrong. It was also around this time that John brought out the first appetizer, a Tapenade Plate that features basil pesto, roasted red pepper, garlic and olive tapenade, and crostini. This was delicious as expected, but the next plate John presented was outstanding.

Look at that! That right there is a combination of the Garlic Steak Skewers and the Marinated Chicken Skewers. The steak skewers are baked medium with green bell pepper and served with spicy peanut sauce & green onions. The chicken skewers are baked with red bell pepper and served with sweet chili dressing & black sesame seeds. Incredibly well cooked, flavored, and presented, John nailed it with that skewer plate.

Next up drink-wise was the 20 Fountains. Named for Portland’s famed Benson Bubblers, this concoction has Bulleit Rye, Carpano Antica, Peychaud’s Bitters, and Regan’s #6 Orange Bitters. Classy, right? Simon Benson may have been a teetotaler, but I bet he would have stolen a sip or two of this fine beverage when no one was looking.

John then decided he wanted me to love him forever. He gave me a new potential menu item he had been working on, which was more or less the Sidecar 11 version of a Chile Relleno. A roasted Anaheim chili stuffed with prosciutto, mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, bread crumbs, and caramelized onion. Roasted Anaheim chilies are somewhere in the top 5 of my favorite things on this planet. Needless to say this offering made me giddy as a school girl.

Not to be outdone, Erin whipped up two cold weather drinks that were originally created by some of John’s old bartender friends. The Nana’s Nip, which has ginger juice, lemon juice, Laird’s Apple Jack, and hot water, was sweet and flavorful. And the last drink of the evening, the Oh Fidel, You Cad!, was as delicious and gut-warming as its name is creative and giggle-worthy. Comprised of a healthy dose of rum, Falernum, lemon juice, and hot water, the Oh Fidel was the perfect capper for the evening.

Sidecar 11 was a great way to finish off the “research” I’m doing for the upcoming Happy Hour piece in NorthWest Travel Magazine. I want to thank John and Erin for being fantastic hosts. It was a real pleasure to get a thorough sampling of what was already one of my favorite bars. I win!

Happy Hour: Bar Bar

19 05 2012

Housed in what used to be a Baptist church, Mississippi Studios is one of the premier music venues in Portland. Long known for its choice acoustics and knack for booking similarly thought of music acts, Mississippi Studios has also managed to garner some renown for its drinkery, Bar Bar.

Like an alcohol slinging conjoined twin, Bar Bar sits connected at the hip next to Mississippi Studios. As you might expect, the musical influence spills over from next door. The staff at Bar Bar is a tight-knit bunch with close ties to the local music scene.

As a drinking spot, Bar Bar features a couple of its own headliners. For starters, their burgers are easily some of the tastiest in North Portland. And if that weren’t enough, you can take that burger and a stiff drink out onto one of the finest, most expansive patios this side of the Willamette. If you live in Portland, you know that outdoor seating means almost nothing for 9 months of the year, but for the other three it means almost everything. Bar Bar’s patio is epic.

Burgers and patios are great. They’ll perhaps get you through the door, but you’re not staying unless the drinks are up to snuff. A couple of weeks ago Kassidy and I made our way down to Bar Bar where we were met by Publicity Coordinator, Stephanie, and Tender of Bar, Arian. Both ladies were very easy to talk to, and I hope they don’t mind my saying, rather easy on the eyes as well. I’ll admit I don’t tire of attractive barkeeps.

While Kass and I chatted up Stephanie, Arian went about the business of assembling a series of memorable/memory erasing bevies. Among them was the Upside Down Margarita. Featuring one of the agave plant’s gifts to humanity, el Jimador Tequila Reposado, and a bounty of muddled citrus, this drink was a tall delicious glass of get you there.

Another star was the Basil Sweetness. Comprised of basil, grape, ginger ale, and 42 Below vodka, this was one of my favorite drinks of the last month. There was nothing overly cute or fancy about it, just a fine drink that’s definitely more than the sum of its parts.

And since all this “research” was for the fall edition of Northwest Travel Magazine, Arian finished us off with a Hot Toddy. Orange juice, whiskey, honey, and hot water garnished with a cinnamon stick and an orange wedge. Kassidy is by no means a whiskey gal, but she tried to bogart this particular toddy, which tells you something about it.

Many thanks to the fine staff at Bar Bar; in particular, Stephanie and Arian. If I ever tire of really good drinks and conversation, I’ll stop coming.

Happy Hour: The Atlantis Lounge

11 05 2012

In Portland, it’s not unusual for a bar to exist as an attachment to a larger business. It’s one of the things I love about the area. Chinese restaurants, mom-and-pop diners, music venues; you’re never far from a stiff drink in Portland. While in some cases these drinking establishments might seem to exist as an afterthought, they occasionally develop into the primary reason you decide to leave the house.

These bars tend to be low-lit, intimate, and hidden in the back. Quite often, they play host to a stable of staunchly loyal patrons that are more than ready to pull the needle off the record player the second a new face accidentally stumbles through the door. These are the places I love to hang out in, but only when the regulars are more inviting. The Atlantis Lounge inside Mississippi Pizza is one such place.

Back in the late 90’s owners Philip and Stephanie Stanton were one of the first entrepreneurs to take a chance on the then struggling neighborhood. Today, Mississippi Pizza thrives as a community hub for food and entertainment. The pizzeria caters to singles, couples and families. They host live music, bingo, trivia nights (Quizissippi), and even the occasional spelling bee. I’ve attended all of these functions at least once, and they’re great. But our attention on this particular evening was on drinks; and more specifically, the Atlantis Lounge.

Tucked neatly into the rear of Mississippi Pizza is the nautically themed Atlantis Lounge. It possesses all the character and ambiance you want from a hole-in-the wall dive hidden in some inner-city alley. It also comes with the coziness and safety that you might expect from, well, a pizzeria on Mississippi Avenue. We were met by the owner of Mississippi Pizza, Philip, bar manager, Nikki, and tender of bar, Adam.

The Atlantis Lounge emphasizes fresh squeezed fruit juices. We were served up a sampling of drinks that uphold that ethos well. The first of these was the Atlantis Margarita. Sauza blanco tequila, GranGala, lime, fresh orange, and prickly pear, served on the rocks. The drink was fresh, stiff, and crisply sweet.

Next was the Titanic. Comprised of Monopolowa vodka, triple sec, lime, and fresh squeezed grapefruit, served up. If you like a good Greyhound you already know that grapefruit juice and vodka are two great tastes that taste great together. This drink is no exception. The lime and triple sec round out the citrus flavor of the grapefruit solidly.

Next up was the Noble Pear. This drink features local Clear Creek pear brandy, GranGala, and lime; shaken and served up, with a sugared rim. Perhaps it’s just my locavore tendencies, but I love me some Clear Creek brandy and this drink utilizes it perfectly. The pear brandy remains the standout, being ever so slightly complimented by the GranGala and lime.

We finished with a nice cold-weather beverage, the Merman’s Hot Toddy. This straight forward warmer utilizes Maker’s Mark and lemon in a ginger toddy. The glory of the toddy is that warm tummy sensation. If it’s done right, you’ll question how much of that warmth is produced by the temperature of the beverage and how much is produced by alcohol content. Adam nailed that balance. Always put your faith in guys named Adam.

Massive thanks to Philip, Nikki, and Adam for providing us with wonderful drinks and conversation. I look forward to slipping into and enjoying every cozy nook the Atlantis Lounge has to offer.

Happy Hour: Samurai Blue

3 05 2012

Samurai Blue is new. Not toddler new, infant new. At just about six months old, the place hasn’t been on Mississippi Avenue any longer than I’ve had my current bottle of ketchup. But clearly, owners Tommy and James didn’t need much time to get their legs underneath them. Serving contemporary Japanese cuisine, Samurai Blue has already garnered a reputation for having some of the best sushi in Portland. The dining area at Samurai Blue is subtle and clean. It’s a comfortable space that’s as suitable for casual lunches as it is for date night. But on this particular day, Kassidy and I were there for drinks.

The drinks at Samurai Blue shouldn’t fly under anybody’s radar. They’re good. Lead bartender, Zachariah, has produced a menu of creative, Asian inspired mixed drinks that are as tasty as they are potent. House infused liquors and fresh ingredients are the focus. Zachariah was cordial, quiet, and self-effacing, but don’t let that fool you. Anybody that has a tattoo of an Osterizer blender on their forearm is probably serious about their drink-makery.

Zach started us off with a Cucumber Martini comprised of house infused cucumber vodka, cilantro, lemon, and a few drops of Tabasco. By the way, the Tabasco gave it a nice back end without making the drink spicy. It was also about this time that Tommy produced the Tuna with Goat Cheese plate. The two primary ingredients are plated with sesame oil, sun dried tomato, balsamic vinegar, basil, Fuji apples, and honey. It was as delicious as it sounds; savory, sweet, and satisfying without being filling. I would later be very happy we had it.

Next we had a Ginger Mojito made of house infused ginger-rum, mint, sugar, lime, and soda. One more time, house infused ginger-rum. Put it on your Christmas list.

We were then we were given a Black Belt. The drink features house infused blackberry vodka, house made blackberry syrup, cranberry juice, and rice milk. This drink was sweet, fresh, and a prime example of Zach’s willingness to experiment.

Then Zach brought in the closer, the Samurai Tai. This fancy number had rum, house made grenadine, orange liqueur, fresh lemon, fresh lime, and pineapple. In typical fruity drink fashion, it tasted like god’s fruit punch. It would also render your limbs useless and make you forget you had children if you drank more than two.

Thanks to Tommy, James, and Zachariah for their time, and for providing us with outstanding food and drink. I need to pitch a story idea about sushi to somebody.

Happy Hour: moloko

24 04 2012

I read somewhere that photography and alcohol don’t mix. That may be true, but I think writing and drinking pair off nicely. I was recently given an assignment from Northwest Travel Magazine to cover the happy hour scene on Mississippi Avenue. By the way, that’s a story idea I pitched to them. If you know me at all that shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Since I sincerely believe that in-depth research and subject immersion are the keys to insightful writing, I have taken it upon myself to visit as many of the bars along Mississippi Avenue that will have me. This coalition of the willing includes newer places, older places, upper end hot spots, and borderline dive bars. Last night I had the privilege of visiting moloko.

Going on 6 years old, moloko is owned and operated by Christian Fitzpatrick. What he’s created is a comfortably eclectic place to hang out. It’s modern, it’s vintage, it’s soul and hip hop. It is also mesmerizing fish tanks. It’s where George Jetson and Common might meet up for a drink; and then be joined by a handful of regulars.

My mixologist for the evening was James. Despite the burden of being distractingly good looking, James was able to pour a series of creative and spot-on drinks. In addition to all the standards, Moloko has a lineup of house infused liquors. I started off with a couple of summer inspired cocktails.

The Smoldering Fruit Bomb was comprised of habenero infused vodka, fresh squeezed orange and lime juice, pineapple juice, agave and soda. It was equal parts “hello there” hot and fruit juice sweet that made the beverage remarkably refreshing.

In terms of refreshment though, you’d be hard-pressed to top the Aaah Jamye. My second drink of the evening was made with muddled cucumber, jalapeno-lime infused tequila, fresh squeezed lime and orange juice, agave, and soda. Good luck finding a better warm weather drink than that. Perhaps the only downside is that the drink goes down way too easy. I suppose depending on where you stand (or wobble), that’s not a downside at all.

Since the article I’m writing might be featured in the winter edition of the magazine, James finished things off with the Gingerly. The drink has orange-ginger infused whiskey, fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, and hot water. It’s garnished with a cinnamon stick and a clove stuffed orange slice. Man oh man if this thing didn’t have me briefly pining for colder weather. Briefly.

Big thanks go out to Christian, James, and the delightful young lady at the bar who provided good conversation. I’ll be back.