First Look: Cocktails at Expatriate in Portland

[Photographs: Sheldon Marrow]

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.

Portland, Oregon's Expatriate was founded over a conversation about The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Kyle Webster was working a guest shift at Kask when he struck up a conversation with a friend across the bar about the social fabric of the world and the history of the way people interact.

Kyle Webster

"I've found a shrinkage of the public space and a rise of solipsism and loneliness," says Webster. "I wanted to create a space that encourages interaction outside of the digital life we've grown accustomed to." Webster points out how the layout of Expatriate was planned with that goal in mind: "The backrest in each of the booths is purposefully set low to create one contiguous space so that guests can easily converse with their neighbors," says Webster. The rest of the bar faces a carved golden arch of birds mid-flight framing a collection of spirits, classic cocktail books, and some of Webster's favorite works of fiction.

We asked Webster how he goes about developing cocktails. "I try not to over-think the recipe," he answered. "I try to relax and hone in on the flavor I'm seeking, and always involve the kitchen in sampling to provide feedback." The kitchen is headed up by Webster's wife, chef Naomi Pomeroy of Beast.

When asked about what the future holds for the Expatriate bar menu, Webster says he is looking forward to digging back into some of his favorite classic cocktail books, including an original two-volume set of The Gentleman's Companion by Charles H. Baker Jr. borrowed from one of his regulars. For a peek at what he's shaking at Expatriate now, check out the slideshow ยป

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.