Listen, I’m a sucker for themed food and drinks, so when I saw that the following bars were slangin’ some Inauguration Day specials, I was in faster than you can say Biden. I can’t think of a more delicious way to mark the departure of a fascist than with some celebratory adult bevvies. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, these specials were available for one-day only, but fear not… these notable date night spots (remember when those were a thing?) are having fun flexing their creative chops and have more in the works.
Noble Rot went all in on the presidential theme, creating two prix fixe meal kits aptly called “The Joe” and “The Kamala.” Cooking instruction sheets were provided in the kits and included some fun inauguration trivia and playlists to occupy downtime while the food heated up in the oven.
“Joe doesn’t have a wild palette per se, he’s really into Italian food. And it’s pretty well-known that Kamala loves to cook. So we thought it’d be fun to do one of her classics, roasted chicken… and then we picked the sides based on one of her favorite cookbooks that she’s talked about—The Art of Simple Food,” said bartender Allison Smith.
The menu and trivia sheet noted that Joey B is a teetotaler (#todayilearned), but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying some Democracy Punch, or the other cocktails created for the occasion, Checks & Balances, and Let Freedom Ring. Smith wanted her menu to cover a range of tastes, so each of the cocktails featured gin, rum, and whiskey, respectively.
I went the whiskey route with Let Freedom Ring, which included Buffalo Trace, averna, apricot, and Angostura bitters. The rich caramel notes of the Italian averna liqueur softened this potent cocktail, and made for some pleasant sipping as I watched an equally smooth Lady Gaga effortlessly belt out the national anthem.
Noble Rot’s weekly food service is for now limited to “Friday Night Hot Burgers,” which can be supplemented with the wine bar’s signature cocktail “Sex with a View.” Sure, the fourth floor patio view isn’t included at present, but y’all can still enjoy the drink as a single or a double inside a frozen pineapple (!) from the safety of your own patios. Other cocktails on the weekly menu will rotate, with classics like Manhattans and Negronis making appearances, as well as different mules.
For all of you who love a theme as much as me, keep an eye out for Noble Rot To-Go’s next event kits in February for the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day.
Noble Rot, 1111 E Burnside, 503-233-1999, noblerotpdx.com
Owner and bartender Kyle Linden Webster, incidentally an alumnus of Noble Rot, was also getting excited in the days leading up to the inauguration and knew people would be planning their celebrations. I’m firmly in the Settle For Biden camp, but another term for 45 might have made me an actual expatriate. Thankfully, this didn’t become an occasion in which I had to drown my sorrows.
Webster quickly conceptualized a trio of cocktails inspired by American flag colors and teased the special on Instagram a couple of days before we officially dumped Trump. For red, it was a good ol’ Negroni (Beefeater gin, Campari, cocchi di torino). White was represented by the modern classic cocktail French Pearl (London dry gin, Ricard pastis, fresh lemon, mint, cane sugar), created by New York bartending legend Audrey Saunders. A Blue Margarita (Pueblo Viejo blanco tequila, fresh lime, blue curaçao, honey) rounded out the bunch, its glowing hue looking very much like the blue raspberry confections of our youth.
Having never had one, I was most intrigued by the French Pearl. Its ingredients sounded pretty straightforward, save for the pastis which I was previously unfamiliar with. A single whiff and ensuing sip told me all I needed to know; with strong liquorice and aniseed flavors, this spirit is a black liquorice lover’s dream. Despite not being a fan of liquorice, I actually wasn’t mad at it and thought the lemon and mint did a nice job balancing the drink.
The cocktails came in three cute little soda bottles with handwritten tags around their necks detailing their ingredients and how to serve them. This to me screamed Paddington Bear, to which my enthusiastic response was: "Why yes, I will look after you *insert smirking emoji*."
Whether you order drinks or not, the bar’s pan-Asian food is not to be missed. As I was previously a fan of their immaculately executed James Beard onion sandwich, I went with the shrimp toast. A pitch-perfect drinking snack, it was gloriously savory, oily, crunchy, just the right amount of spicy, and offset with fresh herbs.
Expatriate aims to have four or so cocktails on their regular to-go menu, bringing back favorites from the early years and drinks that appeared on the menu just before the shutdown. “As time goes on, we’ll get back into our development zone and come up with new fun things. It’s gonna be a long year, so we view it as more of a marathon than a sprint,” said Webster.
Expatriate, 5424 NE 30th, (503) 867-5309, expatriatepdx.com