Authenticity is a difficult thing to create from scratch. Too often a good idea is hindered by budget or lack of total vision by its collaborative creators. When harmony is achieved in the process, and vision meets up with knowledge, skill and competent execution, beauty can be born. I introduce to you, one of the coolest spaces I’ve seen created from the ground up, the Multnomah Whisk(e)y Library.
***Update, MWL is up for best new bar/restaurant design on Eater.com here in Portland, if you have 10 seconds, please go HERE and give us your vote.
Located at 1124 SW Alder in Portland, OR, and named one of the 30 hottest cocktail bars in the country by Eater National, the MWL is the brain child of owner Alan Davis with the operation headed up by Tommy Klus as the resident curator and overseer of all things whisk(e)y. From the street, you enter not only a dark, wood laden walk and stair way, but a different world, an older world than many of us here in Portland are accustomed. As a whisky fan, I have a strong desire to wile away time, tasting all there is to be tasted, learning all there is to be learned. As a design fan, I find that each and every element has created a harmonious symphony of detail which fuels this desire at a fundamental level. In a word (or 2), it is genuinely beautiful. It has the panache of an aged Scottish country club, along with the welcoming and non exclusive demeanor that accompanies that lovely northern, whisky loving culture. History, knowledge and class all without the pretentiousness that we’d assume to find in these environs, stateside.
A truly unique and classical setting in a town where design seems to continue to push forward into a more sterile and linear aesthetic. Not to, in any way demean much of the beautiful, modern design currently being employed around town, but this venue seems to have come from left field, and I am damn glad it has.
I’ve mentioned in the past, how proud I am to be able to work with such visionary artists and the talented creative forces that make up the ELK Collective (click here to visit us), and I really feel that this space shows the skill, diversity and creative power that this group possesses.
Over 1,500 bottles of whisky, or whiskey, depending largely on where the spirit involved has originated from, are awaiting you (don’t worry, there’s a very large guide book to peruse, along with many suggestions and rotating specials). From the best of the more recognizable distilleries, from Kentucky to the Highlands, to some very obscure and remarkably rare bottles, it is the most comprehensive collection I’ve ever seen. Whether you’re a bourbon, whiskey, rye or whisky fan, you will not be left wanting and may need to take time just to wrap your head around the choices available. It is far more nuanced a liquor than I’ve ever truly known, and the more I seem to learn, the more I realize I still need to. It’s a balance of flavor and fire, smoke and peat, astringent and sweet, and it’s also delicious.
Well dear friends, I bid you adieu and urge you to do your best to visit this wonderful place. While it may require the giving up of a first born to gain access (waits and reservations are kinda insane right now), I feel with every fiber in my being that it will not disappoint. I fully plan to actually drink here some day, and when I do, I’ll report back. Until then, I will enjoy the mystique and longing this magical bar has fostered in me.
You can CLICK HERE to see and read more about other ELK Collective projects.
Thanks for the read and happy shooting,