First Look inside Americano, a New Coffee and Vermouth Bar on East Burnside

A new watering hole from Hale Pele’s Blair Reynolds embraces Italy’s greatest exports.

By Benjamin Tepler March 28, 2016

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Americano's Italian Futurist bar mural was created by the artists at local design firm Rather Severe to depict the bar's diurnal cycle from coffee shop to vermouth and amaro-centric cocktail bar.

What kind of bar serves brunch all week, roasts its own coffee, and pours almost exclusively vermouth and amaro? Americano (2605 E Burnside), an espresso house by day and a fortified wine-loving drinking spot at night, might be the first in Portland. 

Americano is the brainchild of Hale Pele tiki guy Blair Reynolds and Coco Donuts’ Ian Christopher, who roasts beans exclusively for the bar’s serious coffee program. Joining the crew is an all-star duo: San Francisco bar celebrity Kate Bolton (previously of Maven), and Chris DeBarr, a veteran New Orleans chef who made his mark at the French Quarter standby, Green Goddess. 

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Left: The centerpiece behind the bar loaded with local and foreign spirits is meant to evoke the shape of a jigger or a Chemex coffee maker. Right: The Amaro Cup, a take on the Pimm's cup with Cardamaro (a cardamom-based liquor) and a float of Peychaud's Bitters. 

At Americano, drinking commences at 7 a.m. (Hair of the dog, anyone?) Behind a gleaming white marble horseshoe-shaped bar, brunch cocktails and coffee galore transcend the banal Bloody, with quaffs like the Shakerato—a cool, frothy bitter-on-bitter espresso drink shaken with cream and amaro, or the Spagliato, a bubbly vermouth drink with Campari, sparkling wine, and house coffee tincture. 

At night, the drink menu breaks into two categories: vermouth-heavy classics (Rob Roy, Manhatthan, etc.), and highly drinkable, tonic water and sparkling wine-based cocktails designed to showcase the bar’s collection of bitters, aperitifs and digestifs. Americano’s trademark sipper blends three types of vermouth (French, Italian, and American) in a French press loaded with slices of citrus, thyme, and lavender, alongside a carafe of sparkling water for mixing. Think of it as sangria for fortified wine lovers. Order one for the table.

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Americano doubles as as serious coffee and espresso bar, with house-roasted beans from co-owner and Coco Donut man Ian Christopher. 

All the while, New Orleans food personality Chris DeBarr churns out whimsical, international plates while paying homage to long-lost James Beard staples, like “jellyroll” eggs with salmon and chèvre or Oaxacan turkey molé over blue corn waffles. Brunch is served seven days a week, before switching to a dinner menu with “digestivos”—little bites and cheeses that pair with the bar’s booze collection. It's early to say where DeBarr's menu will land when the dust is settled, but we’ll be in to try the Americano-steeped Grits and Grillades, a beef dish with coffee, chocolate, and Averna amaro from Sicily—no combination of ingredients better exemplifies this new bar's quirk and ambition. 

Americano will tentatively open to the public April 1.

2605 E Burnside St.
7 a.m.–12 a.m. daily

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