You know Adam Robinson. He made your perfect mai tai at Expatriate. Prior to a stint at Taipei's Ounce, he commanded counters at Park Kitchen and the Bent Brick (RIP). And for the last two years, you saw him at Holdfast on Monday nights, crafting mustard-and-sesame flips and bitter melon cocktails. These were the creative yet deadly quaffs Robinson served at his weekly pop-up, Deadshot. They were a hit.
All along, Robinson aimed to open his own bar. As of Friday, May 25, Robinson realizes that plan. From the old Associated space on Southeast 11th, Deadshot will pour seven days a week, from 4 p.m. until way past the witching hour.
Holdfast, too, is along for the ride—Joel Stocks and Will Preisch are relocating their polished prix fixe concept right next door, in an adjoining space that's being rebuilt to accommodate three nightly seatings rather than one. (Stocks says Holdfast will reopen in mid-June.)
The reinvention stemmed, in part, from necessity. Holdfast, like its former neighbor Fausse Piste Winery, was given notice at its lower East Burnside space this past winter. Deadshot, by then, had proved itself a winner; Robinson, Stocks, and Preisch decided to partner on a more permanent setup, converting the vacated Associated space (previously home to P.R.E.A.M. and Tennessee Red's) into two adjoining establishments with a shared back kitchen.
Deadshot occupies the corner L—it's a masculine space, all sharp angles, abstract paneling, and dark, minimalist banquettes. (Stocks says Holdfast, when it opens next month, will balance that energy with soffit lighting and wall stamps of favorite marine-foraged foods: think sea beans and sea purslane.) Near the discreet adjoining door, Robinson has set up a cocktail laboratory complete with a centrifuge, a Buchner funnel, and a sonic infuser. (He tells Portland Monthly the latter tool, typically used to clean jewelry, is also a fast-track flavor developer used by moonshiners.)
Deadshot's expanded hours means Robinson now commands a team of bartenders; the posse includes alums of Rum Club, Raven & Rose, and Afuri. Running the kitchen is Brennan "Bubba" Bowers, formerly of Meat Cheese Bread. He'll continue to serve up many Deadshot staples—that Holdfast cornbread madeleine and steamed brown bread, the "meaty mac & cheese" (an homage to a favorite late-night dish at the former Beaker & Flask), a dressed-up dog and a blue plate special.
But the cocktails—there will be more! Robinson says that over time he'll unveil a four-part program. One section will be devoted to established house cocktails like Casper's Ghost (bitter melon rhum, mezcal) and the Amoxicillin (a "clarified" penicillin); another will focus on lightly-tweaked versions of "modern classics" like the daiquiri. Robinson also plans to unveil a robust list of non-alcoholic concoctions. Rounding out the program are what Robinson's calling “Deadshot classics": premium booze with artistic, edible complements. That could mean candied nuts served with a mai tai, or olives and onions with a martini—creative little bites of the type that delighted Robinson at high-end joints in London and Singapore.
In a town that protests a $6 pint, drinking at Deadshot represents a bit more investment: cocktail prices hover between $12–14. (Though there's also a $3 Rainier and the $5 "Deadshot"—that's a shot of blackstrap rum and fernet branca.) For many Portland restaurant industry insiders, Robinson's project is already a fixture. Now the question is, will the rest of Portland embrace Deadshot's peripatetic, punch-you-in-your-face libations?