In Portland’s liquor-fueled, restaurant-worshipping microclimate, many of the hottest bartenders attain name recognition and then quickly step away from the shaker for cushy consulting gigs or big-name booze sponsorships. But Eric Nelson, a two-decade industry vet, has his feet planted firmly behind the bar.
If you’re an OG local foodie, there’s a good chance you already know Nelson’s face. He helped get Gino’s and Pok Pok off the ground before helping launch two of the city’s best drink programs at Laurelhurst Market and Trifecta Tavern. In 2017, Nelson debuted his own cocktail-focused pop-up, Shipwreck, slinging nautical trash food with rotating chefs and bringing himself one step closer to his dream of becoming a modern-day Sam Malone. A brick-and-mortar is tentatively planned for 2018.
Nelson describes his drinks as “tiki in function,” with an emphasis on texture. Sorbet and frozen yogurt regularly find their way into his highballs—his Tremor Control, a slurry of Yoo-hoo, bourbon, and cold brew, says it all. For Shipwreck’s fall series, Nelson dreamed up a creamy, hair-of-the-dog stunner that tastes somewhere between an Orange Julius and a dairy-free nog. It’s a complete breakfast, with orange juice, banana (liqueur), a whole egg, and a coffee bean, but we won’t judge if you sip some for dessert, too.
Rock Bottom Riser
Makes one cocktail
Dry-shake 1 oz Powers Irish Whiskey, 2 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice, ½ oz BG Reynolds cinnamon syrup, ½ oz Giffard banana liqueur, and 1 egg. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a martini glass and grate 1 coffee bean over the top.
For a crowd Make a big batch the night before and refrigerate. To serve, pour the mix into 6 oz mini Champagne bottles (available locally at F.H. Steinbart Co), shake, and serve with straws.