Thursday, March 19, 2009

Get Hitched! Get tix!

By Hollyanna McCollom

The recession has everyone watching their wallets, but thanks to a few domestic tax breaks (i.e. buying a house, having a baby, etc) now is actually a pretty good time to get hitched. Earlier this year, Reuters reported that the recession has actually boosted American’s sense of romance. Blame it on the decrease in disposable income (“I don’t know honey, what do you want to do tonight?”) or the the increase in unemployment; whatever the cause, the lovebug is getting some serious action these days.
If you are looking to pop the question, the love-sick folks at Portland Center Stage (128 NW Eleventh Ave, 445-3700, are angling to make it worth your while. Riding the wave of their soon-to-be-closed Victorian love-fest, The Importance of Being Earnest, PCS is still feeling twitterpated and they are trying to spread the love. In a March 4 blog post, the company placed a call to arms for people to get engaged in or around PCS’s home, the historic Armory building. If the newly affianced couple then sends in photographic evidence of the joyous occasion, they will receive three pairs of tickets on the house.
So, head over to Tiffany’s (330 SW Yamhill St, 221-5565, or hit up Gilt (720 NW 23rd Ave, 226-0629, for a one-of-a-kind vintage ring (it is a recession after all!) and make a date. Grab a pre-made picnic basket from Elephant’s Delicatessen (115 NW 22nd Ave, 299-6304, stuffed with romantic edibles like salami, almonds, olives, brie, freshly baked baguette, seasonal fruit salad, cookies, chocolate mousse and Izze sodas. Then drop to your knee alongside the building in the tiny but lovely Vera Katz Park, or simply make her blush in front of their iconic red lit wall.
Then reap the rewards of your romantic gesture (the tickets AND the girl, silly!) because they’ve got two shows in April that are worth the effort. Storm Large’s much-anticipated Crazy Enough runs through June and the political drama Frost/Nixon opens April 14. And as PR & Publications Manager Trisha Pancio sites, “Nothing says romance like fallen politicians [and] filthy sex kitten rockstars.”

Portland Unveiled: Getting Hitched in Stumptown Style

By Hollyanna McCollom

Whether you are planning a big to-do or a simple backyard wedding, the big day can be a big headache to plan. It’s easy to get sucked into the hoopla and suddenly find yourself asking, “Do I really need designer suits and a horse-drawn carriage?” Well, if the tiara fits, then go ahead and have the sort of nuptials that would make royalty blush. After all, how often do you get the chance? But if you’re looking for something with a little more character (and a little less pomp), you’re in luck. Thanks to all the designers, artists and other creative types who have flocked here, Portland is one of the hippest cities to get hitched.
Before you start picking dresses and arranging bouquets, you’ll have to invite your wedding day audience. If you’re keen on being green, take a spin through Oblation Papers & Press (, an “old-world letterpress print shop, urban paper mill and fine European-style paper boutique” that turns recycled 100% acid-free cotton garments into beautiful old-school cards and invitations. Consider using a plantable invitation that guests can place in a pot with soil and grow wildflowers like bird’s eyes, poppies or snapdragons. Botanical Paperworks ( makes 100% post-consumer waste cotton cards, invitations, journals and wedding favors embedded with North American flower seeds that bloom as the paper breaks down.
Want to eschew traditional invitations all together? These days it’s even more acceptable than ever to plan your wedding electronically. Brides are choosing to use online invitations (like that will send invites, provide updates and reminders and keep a running tally of guests. E-Brides are also using the internet to build personalized wedding blogs wherein family and friends can read about the day-to-day trials of nuptial planning, offer their insight and share amusing stories.
Next, of course, you have to get dressed. Thanks to Leanne Marshall’s break-out win on last season’s Project Runway, the world started to pay attention to Portland’s fashion scene. But we already knew that P-Town had a bevy of talent, particularly when it comes to wedding gowns. Allison Covington of Amai Unmei ( is a favorite amongst local fashionistas for her mix of clean, classic lines and striking colors. Her 2009 bridal collection is no exception with gowns in silk charmeuse, chiffon, embroidered Italian cotton, opulent brocade and raw dupioni silk in colors that mimic a spring garden.

(Wedding coat by Amai Unmei, Photo by Jessica Hill)
In Portland, individuality reigns and designers like Kate Towers ( and Elizabeth Dye ( are popular for their one-of-a-kind creations. Towers, a self-taught designer who sells her wares at Seaplane (, creates dresses and wraps that seem to echo nature with their wispy, romantic silhouettes and distinctly Northwest palette. Dye, on the other hand, whose ready-to-wear collection is sold at The English Department (, seems to craft dresses that look like they stepped out of a fairytale. A self-professed ruffle addict, Dye’s dresses are pretty confections, perfectly suited for both the bride that dreamt of being a ballerina and the one that still fancies herself Ophelia.
At the Alphabet District’s Lena Medoyeff Bridal (, brides are also encouraged to engage their own inner-designer as they try dresses on, swapping out bright colored sashes and bows to create a personal touch. Designer Lynn Medoff (Medoyeff is her original Russian surname) understands that the “perfect dress” should be an extension of the bride’s personality, so her dresses range from understated and simple day dresses to richly embellished gowns rippling with ruffles, hand-painted flowers and lace.
There’s no need for the groom to opt for the standard rental tux, either. Seyta Selter of Duchess Clothier ( has been custom-making suits since 2005 and since then she has become the unofficial dresser of guys who believe than looking natty is not an obligation, it’s an art form. For less than it might take to buy an off-the-rack, one-in-a-million suit, Selter can custom make a three-piece suit for your special day that incorporates your colors with colorful linings, hand-made shirts and dapper accents. Last year, Selter paired up with boutique owner Jordan Saylor of Winn Perry ( and began selling her off-the-rack creations alongside Sovereign Beck ties and the remarkably well-crafted Alden boots. Dana Pinkham ( is another local favorite and nationally recognized milliner who has also sold a few of her creations at Winn Perry. Come to think of it, the addition of a kicking fedora is all the more reason why Winn Perry is a spot every groom should go before agreeing to spend the day in an uncomfortable, ill-fitting suit.
Once the apparel is taken care of, the next big nightmare task is making sure your guests are fed. Planning a menu can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re having a daytime affair, you may be able to get away with hor d’oeurves and dessert. Or, plan to have a buffet instead of a sit down meal, but keep the size of your guest list in mind. If you over-plan a buffet, it can end up being more costly. Chloe Fennell of locally-owned Eat Your Heart Out (232-4408, notes that it is important to be true to yourself when choosing a menu. She says, "The wedding create together will be memorable for your guests. Choose the style you feel comfortable with and foods you love or have loved sharing throughout your relationship."
(Photo courtesy of Eat Your Heart Out catering)

Of course, the food is place where couples can really express their creativity. Mandy L. of NE Portland writes to tell us that she went with a carnival theme for her July, 2001 wedding. She says, “We used a hot dog cart and had the tables heaped with big bowls of candy and unshelled peanuts.” Another bride says that members of her Italian family (most of whom are known for their cooking) each brought a signature dish to the reception along with a recipe. Guests were then given a “keepsake cookbook of Italian and Sicilian recipes that had been passed down through generations, some of which had been secret up until that day.” Fennell remarks that personality, not expectation is key when planning the big day, "If there is some quirky food that you both love, even if it's not elegant, you can serve it as an hors d'oeuvres. People have never stopped talking about the time we did a potato chip bar that we served at cocktail hour before the guests sat down to an elegant meal.
(Photo courtesy of Eat Your Heart Out catering)
If you opt for a caterer, make sure you find one that is willing to listen to your needs and accommodate them whenever possible. Make use of the bounty we have here in the Northwest and talk to potential caterers about creating a menu that adopts local favorites or things that are in season at nearby farmers markets.
When it comes to your cake, the sky’s the limit. You can choose an elaborately tiered formal cake, artfully displayed trays of cupcakes or even a collection of fresh NW pies. Portland has a number of bakeries that can cater to your particular desires. Want a vegan cake? Check out Sweetpea Baking Company (, where they concoct some truly stunning (and tasty!) cakes without using any of those pesky animal products like milk, eggs and butter. Can’t decide on a flavor? Call Seri Lopez at Serious Cake ( She can make a cake the size of a skyscraper that features one of her 17 flavors in each death-defying layer. Want your cake with a little side of kitsch? Jocelyn Barda is your go-to gal at Bakery Bar (, where you can get a traditional cake or you could opt for a tattoo-inspired heart with bluejays holding a banner that bears the initials of you and your beloved. What could be more Portland than that?
(Sweetpea Cake, Photo by Katie Marggraf)
If you are planning a wedding this year, keep in mind that even though the economy has been tanking, your love has weathered the storm. It’s okay to celebrate. In fact, it’s encouraged. Sing it from the Burnside Bridge. Shout it from the rooftops of downtown. Enjoy the love that you have found. When you decide to tie the knot, your day should not only be a celebration of your union, but of your individuality as well. After all, that’s the reason why you fell in love in the first place.
(Opening photo courtesy of West Coast Events)

The Ink Tank

By Dave McAlinden

When it comes to tattooing, the ink always seems to receive more recognition than the artist. After all, we get tattoos for ourselves, not to plug the artist who adorned us with it. But the real lifeblood behind the popularity of tattooing comes from the people dedicated to the practice as an art form. They are the ones who carry it on and supply the ever-growing number of those who want tattoos with the gift of style, meaning and distinctiveness. Never one to shy away from an interesting story, I recently interviewed a few local tattoo artists in an attempt to get under their skin and find out what brought them to the profession.
Over at Adorn Body Art (2535 SE Belmont St, 292-7060,, a newer shop in Southeast, I spoke with local artist Elias “Eli” Falconette. Originally from So-Cal, he received his first tat when he was 15 years old in “some Vietnamese guy’s house…a friend of a friend,” says Falconette. “It was of this really shitty dragon,” he says, lifting his right shirt sleeve to reveal the spot where the dragon once garlanded the brachialis between bicep and tricep. “I’ve had it covered up so many times,” he adds. When asked how many pieces he has had so far he quips, “Geez, I have no idea… Hopefully one day it’ll be just one big tat.”
Jeff Johnson, a veteran tattoo artist at Sea Tramp Tattoo Co. (207 SE Grand Ave, 231-9784,, the oldest tattoo shop in Portland, recalls the events of his first tat as the result of a magic trick. “I was 15 years old,” he says. “It was at this crossroads motel and I was showing some biker guy my disappearing handkerchief trick.” Johnson goes on to explain how he used a fake, plastic thumb to facilitate the trick. “The biker freaked out and was all, ‘You gotta show me how to do that.’ So I made him a deal: the trick for a tattoo. The tattoo was the symbol of chaos.” Johnson has been in the business for 18 years.
Much like Johnson, Falconette was 15 when he received his first mark (under arguably questionable circumstances). But as Falconette reasons, “I’d rather get a tattoo that’s not very good from someone who’s really cool than get an amazing one from a shitty person.”
It’s interesting that the love of a piece of body art does not lie solely on its aesthetic qualities. When I ask both Johnson and Falconette about their first experiences there is no hesitation about the events; no stopping to think about it. “Tattoos are about the memories,” says Falconette. And while he and Johnson both have a lot of memories circumscribing their art, when asked how many tats they have, each responded with a satisfied lack of awareness. “I don’t know how many tattoos I have, and it’s really not about how many, it’s now more a matter of surface area. I guess you could say I’m at about half,” Johnson replies, twisting his wrist from left to right. Suffice to say that for both Falconette and Johnson, the body acts as a special kind of scrapbook ensconced in art, the extremes of both caliber and context. Just like life.
In the heart of the Alberta Arts District is D’Lacie McBride of Optic Nerve Arts (1223 NE Alberta St, 287-0339,, who got her first tattoo (a fairy ring around her waist) at the age of 18. She knew at that moment that she wanted to be a tattoo artist. McBride has been tattooing for three years but she was an artist long before that. “I had been drawing since I was four. My grandma was an artist and my uncle was a D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) miniature painter, so I had some influence,” says McBride. “I love fantasy art, but I have a tendency to (go) towards the organic; flowers, trees, that kind of thing.”
McBride’s own body art, she explains, is a collage constructed by the artists of this city. “I haven’t gone to everyone, but I’ll get there,” she states. The tattoos cover about a fifth of her body. When I ask how many people she’s tattooed in her three years, she just laughs, as if I have asked her to solve some complex math problem. “It’s impossible to tell,” she says. “I can say I have a lot of really great friendships with clients. I like to build friendships with bigger pieces. I have a lot of repeat business and life-long clients.” It’s clear to see that McBride also adheres to Falconette’s observation that it is important to like the person who’s tattooing you. When you consider that alongside her experience, it’s no wonder she has repeat customers.
In light of the current economic climate, many businesses have been experiencing a high loss of revenue resulting in layoffs and, in some cases, closure. Curiously enough, the tattoo industry hasn’t seen much of a blow, at least not in Portland. I’m not sure if this is a testament to the quality of art Portland tattoo artists are producing or the attitude Portlanders have toward the art form. Nevertheless, Johnson revealed that February has been one of his best months. “I think when people purchase something they feel an appropriate amount of guilt. Ya know, after you go shopping you think, ‘Should I have bought that?’ But with tattoos it’s less of an indulgence so there is more respect from the buyer,” says Johnson. “It’s not like you’re buying a pair of shoes. It is something that’s going to last you forever.”
Furthermore, McBride notes that getting a tattoo “is not a body modification alone, it’s therapeutic.” In times of stress people seek therapy and getting a tattoo has a certain feeling of catharsis to it. It’s something you do for yourself and ultimately, it is nice to have something you can call your own that no one can repossess or evict you from. There’s a security in that, I think.
So if you are in the market for a tattoo, if you want something you can call your own, these are artists with whom I recommend you trust your skin. They are dedicated, professional, talented, and above all, really cool people. This is evident in the way that they support each other as well. Artists in this city don’t tend to be all that competitive and are quick to recommend (and patronize) other studios like Altas (4543 N Albina Ave, 281-7499,, Infinity (3316 N Lombard St, 231-4777, and Tiger Lily (4616 NE Sandy Blvd, 288-1555, where they themselves have been inked.
At the end of the day, it all lends itself to boosting an industry that plays a big role in putting Portland on the creative national map—one tattoo at a time. (Photo credit: Cambrae of Daniel James Productions)

Review: Bamboo Sushi

By Joshua Ryan

Kristofer Lofgren is not your average 20-something Berkeley graduate and restaurateur. You see, Lofgren’s degree in Environmental Studies aligns with Bamboo Sushi’s (310 SE 28th Ave, unique stance as the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the country.

Over-harvesting species and overnight shipping of fresh fish have made sushi aficionados some of the most environmentally damaging diners on the planet, and Lofgren wants to change that. The menu at Bamboo Sushi excludes blue fin tuna, octopus and freshwater eel—all overfished species—and his “do good” commitment has resulted in deals with fish purveyors so he gets high quality product while minimizing his carbon footprint. While all that is great, for sushi lovers the bottom line question remains the same: does Bamboo Sushi taste good?

Gladly, the answer is yes. Try the usuzukiri, a delicately-sliced whitefish with finely chopped jalapenos, ponzu and sesame seeds which dazzles with taste—a definite winner. Hamachi carpaccio melds yellowtail, house-smoked cipollini, shitake mushrooms, chervil and sea salts for a scrumptious, sweet taste followed by a salty treat. The Hoki Poke box features sushi with red crab, layers of tuna, avocado, togarashi and poke sauce, and is perhaps the most delectable sushi that this writer has ever consumed.

For non-raw diners, try their black cod with smoked soy and roasted garlic served in a deep, white ceramic dish with a black teriyaki-like sauce. Like many of their entrees, this dish is both unexpected and delicious.

Bamboo Sushi is an exceptional neighborhood eatery. Enjoy this winner and when you taste the good food, remember that it came to the table in a way that also does good. Gochisōsama!

Hydro Healing: The Therapeutic Powers of Water

By Shanon Emerson

All of us, at one time or another, feel the pain, both mental and physical. Mental pain—stress, anxiety, uncertainty, existential dread (we’ve all been there)—can be difficult to tackle, especially during tough times, which makes it even more important to treat the physical pains that can make everything seem that much worse. For the pain in your body (and in some cases the mental pains caused by stress), there could be a simple solution: water. More precisely, hydrotherapy.

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to treat disease. Some hydrotherapy treatments use hot water alone, some use cold water alone, and others alternate between the two. Most of us are familiar with the hot water and steam versions of hydrotherapy: hot tub, steam room and sauna. Besides the ice pack, the medicinal uses of cold water may be less familiar: cold plunge, cold foot bath and the cold shower.

Hydrotherapy is primarily used to bring relief from muscular pain and to stimulate circulation. Enhanced circulation can strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, heal injured tissue and improve well-being (i.e., alleviate existential dread).

If you are asking yourself right now: since when did water become medicine? The answer is: a long time ago. The ancient Greeks and Romans took therapeutic baths; the Romans even had communal public baths so all citizens could enjoy the benefits. The Turkish bath was a staple cleansing and social ritual of the Ottoman Empire and remains an important institution in the Middle East today.

Hydrotherapy’s basic operating principle is simple: it plays on the body’s natural reactions to hot and cold stimuli. It uses these reactions to excite or soothe skin, muscles, nerves and internal organs in various ways.

Heat is good for general relaxation and for soothing sore and stiff muscles. Immersing your body in the heat from a hot tub, steam room or sauna increases your body’s overall circulation and helps get rid of toxins.

Cold water and ice packs are most often used to reduce the pain and swelling that accompany acute injuries, such as a freshly sprained ankle. An ice pack lowers the temperature of your skin and reduces inflammation caused by the rush of blood and fluid to a recently injured area.

One of the best treatments for injuries that are more chronic is to alternate between hot and cold. Applying heat causes blood vessels to expand or dilate, which brings in nutrients and oxygen along with the increased blood flow. Switching to cold water or ice causes the blood vessels to contract and carry blood, waste and toxins back to the organs that filter or dispose of waste. The proper way to do this is to begin with three to four minutes of heat followed by 30 to 60 seconds of cold. Repeat this cycle three to five times. Make sure to end with cold so the bad stuff is flushed from the affected area.

The hot-cold cycle can also be done as a full-body treatment by taking a quick cold shower right after a hot bath or by alternating hot and cold in a shower. Try three minutes of hot followed by 30 seconds of cold. After three rounds of that you might just feel like a million bucks. If the idea of 90 seconds of cold water raining down on you doesn’t sound appealing, you can work yourself up to it slowly by trying just 30 seconds of cold at the end of a hot shower.

According to Dr. Suzanne Scopes of Circle Healthcare Clinic in Portland, some of her clients swear by the use of warming socks to treat symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections. The first step in this treatment is to warm your feet first by soaking them in warm water. While your feet are still warm, take a pair of cotton socks and saturate them with cold water. Wring them out before putting them on your feet. Then take a pair of dry, wool socks and put them over the wet ones and get in bed. When you wake up the socks will be dry. “Your body heats them up quickly, and the flushing of blood and lymph from the surface of the skin back in seems to stimulate the immune system,” says Dr. Scopes.

If the at-home hydrotherapy spa isn’t your style, Portland has a few places where you can experience the benefits of hydrotherapy and even add in a therapeutic massage to compound your efforts. At Common Ground Wellness Center (236-6850, in NE Portland you can use their hot tub and sauna for as little as $7 for a half hour and $16 for two hours. Löyly (238-1065, in SE has a sauna and a steam room with hourly rates ranging from $15 an hour to $20 for two hours. Both places have men-only, women-only and co-ed days and times. Check out their websites for details and for a complete list of services.

Now get out there and get your hydrotherapy on. Of course, if you have any health problems be sure to consult your physician first to determine if these treatments are safe for you.

MIX MASTERS: Portland's Top Bartenders Share Their Signature Style

Kelly Swenson of Ten 01
1001 NW Couch St, 226-3463,

By Joshua Ryan

Bartending derives from the word attending, as when a servant attends a master. As a modern term, it means to watch over or manage. After meeting Kelley Swenson from Ten 01’s award-winning restaurant and bar, these definitions seem inadequate. Perhaps, the term “bar master” would be more appropriate.

Swenson first learned basic mixology and later began seriously working with classic spirits, visiting distilleries and pouring over books. As bars became more sophisticated, bar masters like Swenson learned the subtle complexities of spirits; when a drink should be shaken or stirred and a myriad of other details that go into crafting an authentic cocktail.

A perfect example of this is the Celeriac, a strange, surprisingly delicious concoction of gin, lemon, pineapple, egg white and celery bitters. It’s rare to see anyone put egg white in a cocktail and shake it to a meringue-like consistency. The concoction is strained twice to eliminate dregs and poured into a martini glass. The drink tastes like celery, which at first seems off-putting because you’ve never tasted anything so, well, celery-ish. But at the same time it is light, cool, refreshing and sublime. This is truly a sophisticated cocktail and you should try one just to say you’ve experienced this revelation.

The Cryptic Memo is another Swenson confection recently lauded by a local publication as “outstanding new cocktail.” Created from a mix of rye whiskey, Ramazzotti Amaro (an Italian bitters created 200 years ago) and campari (orange bitters), the taste is unexpected. It’s spicy from the orange-flavored campari, but that is offset by the Ramazzotti, an orange-based liqueur with darker shades of almost molasses-like cola. When infused with the strong taste of great rye whiskey the result is sophisticated, masculine and altogether amazing.

Ten 01 has put it all together. Award-winning chef Jack Yoss is in the kitchen, sommelier Erica Landon (just named Portland’s best sommelier) anchors the wine cellar, and now Kelley Swenson, bar master extraordinaire, oversees enticing, sophisticated cocktails at the bar. If you’re seeking an all around, superb drinking and dining experience, Ten 01 is ready to impress. (Photo credit: Amaren Colosi)

MIX MASTERS: Portland's Top Bartenders Share Their Signature Style

Daniel Shoemaker & Evan Zimmerman of Teardrop Lounge
10 NW Everett St, 445-8190,

By Shanon Emerson

Daniel Shoemaker had one concern when Ted Charak, a fellow San Franciscan, suggested they move to Portland to open their cocktail-centered restaurant and lounge: Could Portland handle his intense passion for the craft of cocktails?

Shoemaker quickly realized that we Portlanders love our innovative owner-operated businesses and the passions that fuel them. In the case of Daniel Shoemaker and Teardrop Lounge, the perks of supporting his passion are hindered only by our lack of imagination—not his.

When bartender Evan Zimmerman, another Portland newcomer, first got behind the bar at Teardrop, he and Shoemaker discovered that they could geek out together to create some of the most innovative drinks in the city. Consider Zimmerman’s own Aperol Fizz, a mix of Aperol—an Italian aperitif—lemon juice, housemade rose bitters and egg white. If you raised your eyebrows at the thought of putting egg white in your drink, you may reconsider when you hear Shoemaker say that egg whites “add an insanely velvety texture to the cocktail.”

One look at a freshly shaken Aperol Fizz, with its frothy top layer, and you’ll understand why many of Teardrop’s regulars never order the same drink twice. As enticing as the Aperol Fizz might be, Shoemaker and Zimmerman can always come up with an equally-enticing alternative. Aside from constant experimentation and an excess of creativity, it’s their housemade liqueurs and bitters that make the drink menu at Teardrop read almost like a food menu. The flavor possibilities that come from their little blue bottles of bitters and tinctures are virtually endless. With these two cocktail savants behind the bar, you don’t just get to decide what kind of vodka you want in your martini, you can also decide what era the recipe comes from.

If at any point the drink menu starts to overwhelm you, you can always talk it out with Zimmerman or Shoemaker. Start by telling them what you like to drink or what type of flavor you’re in the mood for. They’ll come back with a few questions or suggestions from the menu. If you still can’t settle on something, they might even create a new drink on the spot, just for you. That’s just the way they do it at Teardrop Lounge. (Photo credit: Amaren Colosi)

MIX MASTERS: Portland's Top Bartenders Share Their Signature Style

Lance Mayhew
of 50 Plates
333 NW 13th Ave, 228-5050

By M. Clarissa Fong

When your low-carb beer or craft brew routine gets tired, refresh the senses by going vintage. At 50 Plates, the bar menu boasts a variety of pre-prohibition and modern cocktail combinations that are developed to perfectly complement their all-American grub. After a brief career as a chef, Lance Mayhew was more than happy to get away from the line and start serving up drinks. His calling took him around the West Coast before he eventually settled at Meriwether’s.

When 50 Plates was looking for a new bartender, Mayhew finally found his permanent home at the chic Pearl joint. Since then, he has already left his unique mark with an original approach to creating cocktails that are anything but run-of-the-mill.

“Sometimes, I’ll see something I like while walking down the street, and I’ll try to recreate that feeling in a cocktail,” says Mayhew. The result: The Swafford Cocktail. Named after Tom Swafford, owner and manager of 50 Plates, this subtly scrumptious classic is served up with rye whiskey, Applejack, Chartreuse green, Maraschino liquor and orange bitters. Once strained into a Martini glass with Kold-Draft ice cubes, the concoction is garnished with an orange twist that adds a kick of autumn flavor to the mix.

If you’re looking to try something a tad more familiar, look no further than the house Mint Julep. “Good bartenders will tell you what they can or can’t make with the resources that they have,” adds Mayhew, a veteran of more than 15 years. “50 Plates is the only place in Portland that can make a real Mint Julep.” Instead of mint-flavored whiskey or julep mixes, fresh leaves are ground and sprinkled into the bottom of a silver cup, which is then filled halfway with crushed ice. A dash of simple sugar is added to release the natural oils in the mint, a shot of bourbon marinates the ice and another scoop of ice tops the cup before the last shot of bourbon is pulled. The julep is simply adorned with a few sprigs of mint and presented with a short straw to allow customers to get up close and personal. But be forewarned, this drink packs a serious punch. (Photo credit: Amaren Colosi)

MIX MASTERS: Portland's Top Bartenders Share Their Signature Style

Kevin Ludwig
of Clyde Common
1014 SW Stark St, 228-3333,

By Shanon Emerson

Kevin Ludwig first learned how to make authentic and classic cocktails when he worked at Wildwood, but it was his time behind the bar at Park Kitchen that brought out his inner mixologist. It was there that Park Kitchen chef Scott Dolich first introduced him to flavor profiles. Ludwig took what Dolich taught him about food and applied it to cocktails. Soon he was recreating and improving upon many of a cocktail’s basic or obscure ingredients, often making them from scratch.

One of the basics Ludwig currently makes himself is tonic water. After years of putting up with tonic water containing high-fructose corn syrup and synthetic quinine, Ludwig started making his own with pure cane sugar and actual quinine.

Oscar’s Drink, one of Ludwig’s signature cocktails, is prepared almost entirely using his own handmade ingredients. Inspired by the Waldorf salad and named after Oscar Tschirky—the inventor of the salad—Oscar’s Drink contains Applejack, homemade spiced apple cider Triple Sec, homemade Nocino (green walnut liqueur) and homemade celery bitters. Applejack, a blend of apple brandy and neutral spirits, is a liquor with a colonial pedigree that’s still made by America’s first commercial distillery and the holder of federal liquor license No. 1, Laird and Company.

When asked what makes a great cocktail, Ludwig answered with one word: “balance.” This is the basis upon which Ludwig builds all his cocktails. It also seems to be a key element to the creation of his restaurant and bar, Beaker and Flask, which will be opening soon. When Beaker and Flask does open its doors, Ludwig will have many long-time friends and co-workers at his side, working with him to create a place that they’re all proud of. When people walk in the door of Beaker and Flask, Ludwig wants them “to feel the vibe we get from each other...working together. We actually like each other and love being around each other.” For now, you can enjoy Ludwig’s creations at Clyde Common, a place with its own good vibes. Expect to find him there behind the bar, putting the final touches on his most recent concoctions. (Photo credit: Amaren Colosi)