When owner Elaine Tanzer opened the doors to the original location in Northwest’s Uptown Shopping Center in 1979, curated specialty markets weren’t at all common as they are today—Portland had yet to develop the food-centric identity we’re now known for. In this respect, Tanzer was a pioneer. She passed away last fall at the age of 77, leaving behind a legacy that includes eight Elephant’s Deli locations.
At the deli’s Corbett location (opened in 2013), bartender Josh McNaron used to flex his creativity more freely with an extended menu, often throwing weekly or even daily specials up on the board. Through the duration of the pandemic, food and beverage director Nick Doughty and the lead bartender at Elephant’s flagship NW 22nd location have streamlined things for both locations.
The current cocktail menu debuted in March and will stick around until the end of May when it will give way to summer flavors. Based on menus from summers past, expect to see a spritz or two or perhaps a mojito.
All of the deli’s cocktails, which are also available for dine-in, sit at a sweet price point: all eight of them clock in between $9-$10.50. They’re served in regular plastic lidded cups, which made it easy to slip in my cup holder for the ride home. Upon arrival, pour it over rocks, enjoy, no fuss.
The “5 Spice Peach and Bourbon Sour” fuses together 5 spice infused bourbon, Combier Peche de Vigne, peach purée, and lemon juice. Elephant’s prefers to make their own infusions rather than stocking the bar with flavored liquors. The peach purée is not house-made, but I’m not holding it against ‘em. One whiff of the juicy-smelling drink will take you straight to Georgia, honey.
Instead of a sharp kick, the 5 spice partners well with the bourbon to bring a warmth to the cocktail that rivals a freshly baked peach pie.
My drink came complete with a gummy peach ring “garnish,” and after ordering I found out that it is the only one on the menu to include a fun little bonus. I sure know how to choose ‘em! The only dilemma: Do I eat the peach ring as an appetizer (the sweetness of the candy might then corrupt my palate), or do I nibble it after as a cheeky chaser? Or C) I’m overthinking this entire exercise, which is on brand for my personality.
What I settled on turned out to be the pro move. Pour a bit of the cocktail into the little compartment the peach ring comes packaged in for a boozy bourbon soaked gummy! Vodka gummy bears, you’ve got some competition.
Elephant’s Delicatessen, 5221 S Corbett, (503) 937-1075, elephantsdeli.com