Chef Vitaly Paley has begun his Portland expansion, teaming up with Chef Ben Bettinger, formerly of Beaker and Flask to open Imperial in the heart of downtown Portland. Former Beaker and Flask presiding barman Brandon Wise is in charge of the restaurant's bar program.
"While I will always miss Beaker and Flask, I was looking for something new, fun and adventurous and never before had the opportunity to start something where my stylistic take on cocktails could be further explored," says Wise. "I love working with people who I respect and trust, and incorporating culinary techniques from the chefs. I work to make drinks that are engaging and experiential, and the chefs are a constant source of inspiration."
Wise also created an extensive non-alcoholic menu featuring drinks that get their inspiration from cocktails. There's the Against the Fence, comprised of sparkling cider from Normandy, apple shrub, lemon, and bitters, as well as the tiki-style V is for Victory, made with B. G. Reynolds Falernum, fresh orange and lemon, honey syrup, and an allspice and clove tincture. Wise also serves cocktails on draft, featuring one classic and one original with plans to regularly rotate. The current draft cocktails include the classic Vieux Carré as well as the Ada Coleman, made with Beefeater gin, dry vermouth, apricot liqueur, and orange bitters.
"I like to create cocktails that are an homage to the craft with a culinary twist," says Wise. Whether we are smoking hickory chips to infuse our vermouth or tomatoes for our smoked Bloody Mary, the goal is to make drinks that complement the food, and provide a memorable experience for the guest."
All of the cocktails on the menu are under $10 and at happy hour you can score draft cocktails for $5. Check out the slideshow for a look at Imperial's drinks.
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.