May 2 2011

This is the third installment in a series of blogs about our new Zeus Café at the Crystal Hotel, opening on Tuesday, May 3 in downtown Portland. Here, we take a look at our cocktail program.

BarLess than 24 hours to go 'til the Crystal Hotel and its first-floor Zeus Café opens its doors! Whoooo-hoooooo!

True to McMenamins' form, we'll be serving drinks, and lots of 'em - McMenamins handcrafted ales, wines and spirits, of course... but what about the cocktails? We're glad you asked.

Crystal Hotel Bar Manager Mike Lorberbaum heads up what he calls "a crack team of professionals" with a passion for getting it right. There will be meticulous attention paid to the construction of each and every drink. Our bartenders are employing old-school, pre-Prohibition production methods - who knew there was a right and a wrong way to stir, shake, crush and muddle? The aim is to make Zeus Café a downtown base for a growing "cocktail culture," as restaurant manager Franco D'Amico phrased it. 

Here are just a few of the interesting and sometimes unusual ingredients we'll use to concoct the perfect cocktail:

  • A wide assortment of fresh-squeezed citrus juices
  • 10 different syrups including rhubarb, lavender and a housemade orgeat (almonds, sugar and rose water)
  • A housemade sweet vermouth made with Edgefield wines called Zeus Vermouth
  • Extra-large ice cubes, some flavored with things like bitters
  • A selection of salts including Himalayan pink salt and pinot noir salt

DrinksSo what are Lorberbaum's "favorites" that he'd suggest you try on a visit to the Zeus Café bar? (To his credit, his first response was, "All of them"):

Last Word - Edgefield Distillery's Penney's Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur and lime
St. Sutton - Peychaud's Bitters ice cube, Edgefield Distillery's White Dog Whiskey, Dolin Blanco Vermouth, St-Germain and Peach Bitters, served in a glass given a rose water rinse
Vieux Carre - Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey (the benchmark for all rye whiskeys), Hennessey Cognac VS, Noilly Pratt Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine Liqueur and Angostura and Peychaud's Bitters

The bar is open from 7 a.m. 'til late - come by to try one of these or a menu of other cocktails at Zeus Café or Al's Den.

Tomorrow, read about our Zeus Café décor - from Jim Beam to the Grateful Dead, sometimes all is not what it seems...

About the author: Kerry Beeaker has been part of our crack McMenamins marketing staff since 2005.
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