Portland's Rum Club has been a perennial favorite for industry folks looking for a post-shift drink since Mike Shea first opened the bar in 2011. Shea worked behind dance club bars before teaming up with his best friend, Kevin Ludwig (of Beaker and Flask fame) to open a cocktail bar with one of the most extensive rum selections in town and off-the-beaten path modifiers including a collection of 5 different orange liqueurs. Many of the cocktail ingredients are made in-house, including a passionfruit syrup, mulled wine grenadine, and house-recipe tonic water.
The newest addition to the Rum Club team is Adam Robinson, who made his Portland debut at Park Kitchen and later managing The Bent Brick before landing at the Rum Club. Robinson grew up in New York and bounced between the TV industry and the restaurant industry to make ends meet. He eventually ended up at Momofuku, where he helped lead bartender Don Lee to launch their bar program.
Robinson said "Working with Don Lee was the best experience of my career. He is the closest thing I've ever had to a mentor." Robinson said that he was a home cocktail geek with extensive spirits knowledge but Lee helped to round out Robinson's skillset by teaching him more about technique. Robinson moved to Portland with no job prospects but was enamored with the passion of Portlanders working in the service industry. "I love what I do," said Robinson, "I've never had a day where I dreaded going to work, and not everyone can say that."
One of Robinson's favorite cocktails is the Rum Old Fashioned, a versatile and simple concoction made with different bitters and rum depending on what best suits the occasion. But what else should you order, if you find yourself on Southeast Sandy Boulevard? We asked the Rum Club crew to pick their 5 favorite drinks from the current menu. Check out their recommendations in the slideshow above.
720 Southeast Sandy Boulevard, Portland, OR (map) 503-467-2469; rumclubpdx.com
About the Author: Greg Harned lives in Portland, OR, where he enjoys cocktails, drinking and general mischief-making in candlelit speakeasies, swanky cocktail lounges and dingy dive bars. He manages Portland Craft Cocktails where he writes about his various exploits and also dabbles in the spirits trade. You can follow him on Twitter @craftcocktails.