Known for its coffee, beer, wine and distilled spirits, Portland is a city of options. Situated between the Columbia and Willamette rivers, in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland’s geography contributes to this bounty, and from fresh fruits and vegetables to a vast array of seafood and meat, chefs and bartenders have access to more locally grown products than most major cities in America.
Culinary legend James Beard once said about Portland, “No place on earth, with the exception of Paris, has done so much to influence my professional life,” and many others in the food and cocktail scene agree, including Deadshot bartender and Certified Cognac Educator Adam Robinson. Although he has spent most of his life in different parts of New York, with stints in Atlanta, Switzerland and Taiwan, Robinson calls Portland one of his favorite places to live. “It has the best of both worlds—we have a thriving food and beverage industry/community here, one that rivals any big city,” he says. “I’ve been able to grow here professionally and make a happy life for myself.”
Since first moving to Portland eight years ago, Robinson has worked in some of the city’s best bars, and he’s had the chance to create cocktails using a wide range of ingredients. But he considers Cognac one of his “special spirits,” describing it in three words—fruit, floral and spice. He says the spirit’s history, production method, tradition and sense of place make it one of the most unique distilled spirits in the world, and he tries to find approachable cocktails, like the Sidecar, to introduce his patrons to Cognac. “As a bartender you’re a tastemaker, and once you gain a customer’s trust, you can get them to try other things,” he says.
Across Portland, bars are highlighting Cognac in creative ways—here are five spots Robinson recommends checking out: