I don’t know how I’ve never given Shipwreck love in the pages of this fine publication until now, and for that I am only kind of sorry.
I have all the feels for this roving pop-up bar from bartender Eric Nelson, who has a knack for showing up with the coolest food-and-drink kids on the block, throwing an epic party, and disappearing as fast as those piña coladas I hosed.
Oh, that piña colada. Nelson’s always tweaking it somewhat, and the latest arrived in a bottle with mezcal and aged rum, with coffee and salt ($14), served on the sunny, early-fall deck at Departure. It’s the best cocktail in the city, scout’s honor. That day, Nelson paired with taco superstars Little Conejo and Güero, Gregory Gourdet chipped in a few bites, and brought in guest bartenders from Bible Club and St-Germain.
Nelson isn’t afraid of whimsy, and ingredients that stray far from the staid twists on an Old Fashioned or Manhattan. The Grounds for Divorce cocktail ($13) was a brilliant orange and layered with pisco, orgeat (orange and almond liqueur), tamarind, sour carrot, Japanese togarashi spice, and Peruvian Inca Kola.
Another is named after Han Oak chef Pete Cho ($13), served warm with Oaxacan rum, cacao, black tea, fernet cream, black pepper, and mint. It seems like too much—it always seems like way too much—but it never is. Along with the piña colada, Shipwreck’s other enduring classic is the Jesus & Tequila ($13), blending tequila and mezcal with lime froyo and “blessings,” among other touches.
This winter, Nelson is set to open EEM, a Thai barbecue and drinking food spot with Earl Ninsom of Langbaan/Hat Yai/Paadee and Matt Vicedomini of Matt’s BBQ, in the former Ray space on North Williams. Still, Nelson says Shipwreck’s pop-ups will sail on. Ahoy.Shipwreck at Expatriate Halloween 5 pm to midnight Costume contest from 7 pm to 9 pm No cover shipwreckpdx.com