Bible Club Is Committed to Bringing an Accurate Speakeasy Experience to Portland

Speakeasies are a popular theme for bars, and there are a few in Portland, including Circa 33 with its hidden back room, and The Secret Society above Toro Bravo. Great bars in themselves, none of them are as dedicated to the theme as Bible Club, recently opened in Sellwood.
 
From the outside, it doesn’t look like much: a plain yellow house, standing in a mostly deserted block in one of Portland’s older residential neighborhoods. A single signboard directs customers up the stairs to a door bearing a brass knob with the letters B and C. This door knob, it turns out, dates back to the 1800's, and was sourced by owner and co-founder Ryk Maverick. It’s indicative of what’s inside.
The doorway feels like a portal to the prohibition era. The cozy space is filled with vintage comfy chairs, wooden bar stools, antique light bulbs, and American flags. A discerning eye will notice that the flags have only 48 stars; Alaska and Hawaii were not recognized as states until 1959. Rather than contemporary music, tinny jazz and old-timey music plays on a 1920's radio. A host, often co-owner Brandi Leigh, greets guests at the door and offers to hang their jackets. Even the coat hooks are authentic, down to the screws that hold them in. On one wall, vintage portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln hang, a hallmark of the era when every bar had them. 

The bar itself is no different. The era predated the glass and tin Boston Shaker, so bartenders use only hand-pounded metal three piece shakers. Strainers, spoons, peelers, and all other bar equipment is similarly ancient. All of it was sourced by Ryk from auctions, estate sales, and anywhere else he could find the pieces. The only modern devices are some Bull in China mixing glasses. Glassware, from cocktail to wine, is clunky yet elegant. It makes one wonder why other bars insist on using nothing but the most delicate and unadorned glasses.
 
The menu is as vintage as it gets. The gin and tonic is unlike most others—aged gin, housemade tonic syrup, and soda from a bronze tap. Punch is made daily with the classic five ingredients: Spirits, bitters, tea, citrus, and sweetener. Cobblers, swizzles, and more from bygone times grace the pages. Original cocktails, inspired by the era, are created by the pedigreed bartending duo Jessica Braasch, previously of Kask and Gruner, and Nathan Elliot, from Chop Shop and Four Seasons in Seattle. The drinks are all made with aplomb, but be prepared for New York level prices. For beer, guests have the option between  lager or ale, and the wine is European. A temperance menu is available for teetotalers, and those drinks are just as carefully crafted as the boozy ones.
 
In the kitchen is Anthony Cafiero, the gregarious chef who opened the now shuttered Racion. Cafiero runs solo, putting out delicious French inspired dishes five nights a week, including an incredible duck confit and some of the best macaroni & cheese around. 
 
The clientele is distinctive from other Portland bars—Sellwood has long been home to families as well as parents whose children have long left home. Here, they can find a bar without the swarms of youthful hipsters that fill other establishments. While the clientele runs older, there are still younger people to be found; Bible Club makes a great date spot for people of all ages.
 
If it were anything less than it is, Bible Club would come off as a hokey affectation. But the level of dedication to the experience, from the design to the craft, is transportive. It feels anachronistic to pull a phone out here, and those in t-shirts and jeans look more out of place than the burlesque dancers and suited men that have been making this a regular spot. Bible Club is pricey, but it’s also the most authentic speakeasy in Portland, from the style to the product.
 
Bible Club, 6716 SE 16th Ave.; 971-279-2198

Photos by Alexander Frane

Tags: Cocktails, Food
Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Join Prost! for Kolsch Fest on Saturday, June 17

Join Prost! for Kolsch Fest on Saturday, June 17

On Saturday, June 17, Prost! will celebrate the ultimate summer German beer by replacing all its taps with different Kolsch ales....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 14, 2017
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is Getting His Own Beer

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is Getting His Own Beer

Astrophysicist, writer, and television personality Neil DeGrasse Tyson now has his very own beer, courtesy of Asheville Brewing Company....read more ›

by Drink Philly Jun 14, 2017
SPONSORED
Here's Where You'll Be Drinking in Portland This Summer

Here's Where You'll Be Drinking in Portland This Summer

Here's where you need to drink in Portland this summer and get some refreshing cocktails...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 13, 2017
Things No One Asked For: Fireball Gummy Candies

Things No One Asked For: Fireball Gummy Candies

Get ready - both Irish Confectionery Co. and VineGelee are now selling gummy bears spiked with Fireball. ...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Jun 13, 2017
D.C. Is Getting a 'Game of Thrones' Pop-Up Bar For the Summer

D.C. Is Getting a 'Game of Thrones' Pop-Up Bar For the Summer

D.C. is getting a Game of Thrones pop-up bar - three of them, in fact. Drink Company (run by Derek Brown and Angie Fetherston) is turning three of its...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jun 12, 2017
AB InBev Buys Minority Shares in RateBeer.com: Craft Beer Brands Ask to Be Removed From Site

AB InBev Buys Minority Shares in RateBeer.com: Craft Beer Brands Ask to Be Removed From Site

Global conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev now has a minority stake in RateBeer.com....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 12, 2017
Pernod Now Owns Del Maguey Mezcal

Pernod Now Owns Del Maguey Mezcal

On June 7, 2017, Ron Cooper announced that Pernod-Ricard, one of the world’s top spirits companies, would be acquiring Del Maguey....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 12, 2017
Behind the Bar: Tracie Franklin, Glenfiddich Ambassador

Behind the Bar: Tracie Franklin, Glenfiddich Ambassador

For this installment of Behind the Bar, we talked to Tracie Franklin, the Southeasten US representative for Glenfiddich, about her day-to-day, her per...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jun 6, 2017
Portland's Best Summertime Patios for Outdoor Drinking

Portland's Best Summertime Patios for Outdoor Drinking

Here are some amazing patios where you can drink outside this summer in Portland....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 6, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close