With a six-seat chef’s counter, a dining room downscaled to two large communal tables, and a triple-decker DJ station spinning Japanese crooner records, Tannery Bar is flush with thirsty locals and flirty couples. In the space that formerly housed his Skin & Bones Bistro, chef-owner Caleb McBee has invented a new brand of cocktail-focused farmhouse chic. The revamped bar is cozier than ever, with a no-frills food menu and seriously fresh cocktails.
The booze-heavy reboot is a kind of reincarnation of McBee’s former Apotheke, a modern Scandinavian digestif dispensary in the Pearl that shuttered in 2008. Now, with the help of former Ned Ludd general manager Marc Dyer, Tannery Bar is serving drinks that give Portland’s top-tier cocktail labs a run for their money. Beneath a taxidermy boar’s hoof and supersize turkey wishbone, McBee mixes up “Tannery Creations” like “A Pear in the Forest” (an autumnal mix of Clear Creek pear brandy, Douglas fir eau de vie, lemon, orgeat, Amargo bitters, and egg white) and the “Quince Jones” (a tart and fruity concoction of White Dog whiskey, Byrrh, and quince shrub) along with a short list of biodynamic and organic wines.
Portland, OR 97215
The food menu remains true to Skin & Bones’ original vision of comforting, from-scratch cuisine, but comes abridged as a list of elevated “bar snacks,” all under $12. The shepherd’s pie—a heavy cloud of creamy mashed potatoes an inch thick piled atop bison stew in an earthenware dish—is a quintessential winter comfort. An archetypal Monte Cristo on Pullman bread emerges with thick strata of smoked turkey, ham, and gruyère, puffy with egg batter and served with a sweet side of marionberry preserves.
At Tannery Bar, McBee seems to have found his groove, crafting a homey neighborhood watering hole and a new east-side cocktail destination.