Thursday, March 19, 2009

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)

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