The Liquor Store Brings Unpretentious Craft Cocktails to Belmont Bar District

The Liquor Store Brings Unpretentious Craft Cocktails to Belmont Bar District

In the past few years, Portland has seen a surge in the appearance of craft bars. Many of them appear to be competing in a contest for the most obscure ingredients per cocktail and the most amount of cocktails on a menu. These menus are often found at bars whose aesthetic is commonly referred to as “Industrial Chic”. The result is a lot of cocktail bars in the city with a similar look and similar, often expensive drinks, despite their complex nature.

The Liquor Store, recently opened on Belmont in the space vacated by The Blue Monk, has avoided this approach. Its menu consists of a mere six or so cocktails, most of which are classics. The focus is on providing straightforward, quality drinks, sometimes with a subtle variation.

The Manhattan, for instance, is a lovingly made, excellent version of the drink with the addition of some chocolate bitters. The Gin and Tonic is made with quality tonic and good gin, and garnished with juniper berries and hibiscus flowers that slowly infuse the drink and imbue it with a pink color. The Highball consists of bourbon, soda and ginger syrup over ice.

An original cocktail on the menu is the Blue Monk, named for the previous establishment. Still, it’s an uncomplicated drink, a variation on the Hemingway Daiquiri with an addition of a homemade blue curacao to grant the appropriate hue. All of the cocktails offered are affordably priced, staying under the $10 mark, though prices are oddly absent from the menu. 

The Liquor Store also strays away from the usual pub grub and fried food, offering homier, and relatively healthy fare, including the excellent roasted brussels with roasted corn, mozzarella and crusty bread. Also nice are the candied nuts, the great cubano sandwich and the complimentary popcorn. Tim McCusker, the chef of The Liquor Store, has been an Iron Chef three times, and it shows in his work.

The Liquor Store continues Blue Monk’s tradition of acting as a venue with the basement area presenting bands on a regular basis. A second bar downstairs allows customers to order drinks without having to trek back upstairs.

The owner’s love of music is evident upstairs as well. An entire wall of the bar is devoted to his personal record collection, and patrons can usually find the man himself spinning choice albums at the turntable, though he also invites guest DJs from the record store across the street, Belmont Records.

Concrete floors and wooden walls create an echo-y space, and the establishment, like Aalto Lounge and Sweet Hereafter across the street, can become noisy, especially on weekends, but otherwise the bar is comfortable and cozy. Get there early, as only a certain amount of people is allowed in at a time. The bar opens at 4 PM everyday, with happy hour starting at open and ending at 6, with discounted wells, beers and a few menu items. It closes at 2:30 AM.
 
The Liquor Store; 3341 SE Belmont St.; 503-421-4483
 
Photos by Alex Frane

Tags: Cocktails, Dinner, Food, Spirits
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