Note: First Looks give previews of new drinks and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Double Dragon got its start as a banh mi shop, but it has since grown into a full-fledged restaurant with a revamped food and cocktail menu. The cocktails from bar manager Nick Ramsdell are designed for sipping alongside food from chef/owner Rob Walls, who has spent time cooking at hotspots like Beast (in Portland) and Momofuku (in New York.)
Ramsdell has been bartending since he was 21, but it wasn't until a stint at Yakuza that his interest in craft cocktails was really sparked. "Daniel Strong [lead bartender at Yakuza] was my mentor, and quickly became my best friend," says Ramsdell. "We get together with Daniel Parker, the bartender from the Parish, on a weekly basis and pick a spirit or theme and try to come up with new drinks." These research and development sessions inspire a number of the unusual flavor combinations that can be found at Double Dragon's bar.
You'll find Ramsdell experimenting with house-made syrups including a pho syrup flavored with all of the ingredients found in traditional Vietnamese pho. He is also working on a kimchi Bloody Mary to please pickle-crazed Portland drinkers.
Ramsdell is open to inspiration and eager to inspire others: "One of my hobbies is going to different towns and exploring their craft cocktail scene," he says. "It's great to find comrades in the industry to talk to and geek out over cocktails and spirits and what we've been working on. When I first started, I was more secretive about my recipes and creations. David Barlow from San Francisco helped to gently steer me to a path of sharing and transparency."
Ramsdell hopes to expand the Double Dragon drink program to include brunch cocktails as well as afternoon aperitifs down the line. Check out the slideshow for a peek at the cocktails at Double Dragon »
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. You can follow him on Twitter @craftcocktails.