I landed in Portland, OR for the first time in my life and, I was lucky enough to stumble across the coolest, most unique, historical, full of character joints I have walked into in a very long time.
Brass; dark wood; dim lighting; forest green leather seats and barkeeps in fitted black slacks, white buttoned shirts with fitted black vests and ties.
Bottles of whiskey and scotch of all ages, from all over the world shined through the glass of the wooden cabinet that sat in the upper left-hand corner of the bar. I was so in love, I could barely look away. But, eventually, I managed to peel my eyes off the site of heaven that was whiskey and noticed the brass backdrop with 12 taps sitting in a row under the middle portion of the cabinet (that also held an incredibly impressive selection).
I asked the barkeep if he could tell me what heavenly poison flowed through those taps. He proceeded to recite that every four was a different option: 4 taps of wine, 4 taps of cider and 4 taps of craft beer - all brewed, aged and created right there. Of course, I had to indulge myself...
I typically would have gone for one of the wines or craft beers, however, I was intrigued by the fact they brew their own cider. I say intrigued because I’m not typically a cider fan but, I was so impressed with everything else just walking in, I wanted to give their cider consideration. I thought, if cider was going to be done well (ever), this has got to be the place that would convert me. And, sure enough, it did… I savored every sip of their seasonal cider that was a cranberry base. Seriously the best cider I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy.
Once I was finished with my meal and unbeatable cider, I grabbed the keys and started my drive to Walla Walla, WA to go spend Thanksgiving with some of the best people I have ever met in my life, my family.
Unfortunately, it was a short trip, but a fully energizing one. The energy I get from spending time with these people is incredible. Anyway, you’re not here to read about my family…
So, I flew into Portland, OR and drove the four hours to Walla Walla, meaning, I had to go back to Portland to fly out. What else did that mean? That meant I would be able to visit bar heaven again.
I’m back at McMenamins, or Black Rabbit Restaurant & Bar (the bar heaven that sits inside McMenamins), and saddled up at the bar once again, ordering another “seasonal cider”. As I’m sipping and eating (the food is incredible as well) on the deliciousness in front of me, I started to eavesdrop on the conversation the barkeep was having with a couple behind me.
Sadly, I missed the beginning of the conversation. I was so busy in my own euphoria of Bolognese and cranberry cider, that being rude and listening to another person’s conversation skipped over me.
However, the part I did catch ended up being the most important part of the conversation…
Barkeep: “It’s definitely one of the best ones we have, and out there, in my opinion”.
Patron: “How much for a shot?”
Patron: “Man…” (with a smile and puts his head down)
Now, I don’t know about any of you, but I, myself, am in a position where I most certainly have to ask how much something is when I am feeling like it may be just a bit too expensive for my wallet. However, it was the day after Thanksgiving, and though I am far from even living amongst the middle class, it broke my heart to hear this gentleman ask the price and not get himself the shot he was so curiously wanted. He wasn’t old, but he had been around long enough that he should be able to enjoy a shot of tequila aged for years in a whiskey barrel.
I finished my meal and cider and found a different route to exit from the bar so the gentleman wouldn’t notice me. Out of sight toward the back exit, I waved down one of the barkeeps. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind asking the other barkeep on duty which tequila he and the gentleman with the nice looking gal were conversing about. He said “of course”, and came back and gave me a name. (Don’t kill me, I wasn’t so concerned about the name at the time, as I was just making sure I had the right tequila).
I told the barkeep I’d like to buy a shot and for him to pass it along to the gentleman. The barkeep smiled, rang me up, I signed the slip and left.
Nothing feels better than being kind to one another… Cheers.