"I'm on a mission to make drinking fun again," says says Brandon Wise of Beaker & Flask in Portland, OR. "Mixology started taking things too seriously, which made drinking stuffy and took the emphasis off of the guest." As part of his commitment to fun and levity, Wise mandated a pre-shift team high-five from the Beaker & Flask staff.
The cocktails are often rooted in the classics, like the New Vieux, their rendition of the Vieux Carré, but also whimsical and experimental, like the .38 Special, a beer cocktail served in glass wrapped in a paper bag. "It just feels good to drink out of a paper bag," says Wise. "The presentation sparks conversation and leaves a lasting memory."
"Throughout history, bartenders have served more than just drinks," says Wise. "They act as gatekeepers, philosophers, psychologists, concierges, and ambassadors to the city." Wise introduces visitors to Portland's bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables in a number of housemade cocktail ingredients, such as a special pinot noir-based grenadine. "Portland is a local culture, and it only makes sense that we utilize that bounty," he says.
Brandon Wise will be leaving Beaker and Flask to work at Imperial, an upcoming venture from Vitaly Paley and Ben Bettinger that is scheduled to open in October. As a parting gift, Wise gave us his five favorite drinks of all time from the Beaker & Flask menu. Check out his picks in the slideshow above.
Beaker & Flask
727 Southeast Sandy Boulevard, Portland, OR (map)
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.