Dust off that library card; it’s time to go drinking. Alan Davis, the owner of Southeast Portland’s Produce Row, is opening a new bar with noted spirit savant Tommy Klus at the helm. Dubbed “Multnomah Whiskey Library,” the new whiskey-forward clubhouse on SW Alder near 12th Avenue will feature an obsessively curated archive of spirits, tableside whiskey service, and a full curriculum of booze education.
Here are five reasons to get excited about MWL, set to open this summer.
1. It’s a whiskey library: The turn of the century (the 20th century, that is) library-meets-British gentleman’s club space is set in 2200 square feet with 25-foot high ceilings, brick walls, aged wood, and two skylights ornamented with stained glass. Seventeen bookshelves will hold 1500 bottles dedicated to different spirits, with an emphasis on “whiskeys of the world.” Each 12-foot-tall shelf will be organized categorically by region, ingredient, and distilleries’ production practices. In short, this is a whiskey lover’s paradise.
2. It’s a secret, kind of: Davis insists MWL is not a speakeasy. But to find the place, enter a doorway on Alder between the English Department and Lille Boutique, walk down a 20-foot corridor, and up a flight of stairs to a door with minimal signage.
3. Whiskey on wheels: Don’t get up! At MWL, bartenders will pull bottles off the wall and wheel them around the room in carts, offering patrons a unique style of table service, with drinks poured tableside.
4. Back to school: In addition to a private tasting room, which can be rented for meetings or private tastings, whiskey education will be a huge part of the MWL’s blueprint, offering one-off seminars, sequenced classes, and frequent field trips to distilleries around the world. The private tasting room will also feature lockers—think whiskey humidors—for rent, where patrons can keep bottles on hand.
5. Tommy Klus, Head Librarian: One of Portland’s shining star mixologists, Tommy Klus earned a reputation for himself at Bluehour, Teardrop, and Kask, and occasionally guest-curating cocktail menus around town. Now Klus has taken on the title of “Curator” at MWL—a whiskey librarian overseeing the collection of Speyside, Islay, and Highland lining the shelves—shaking and stirring a list of classic cocktails and shushing visitors when they get too rowdy.