Entertaining Guide

Say So Long to Summer with a Block Party for the Whole Fam

Plus: a cooler-ready, pomegranate-infused spin on a Paloma.

By Heather Arndt Anderson August 27, 2019 Published in the September 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

You love your neighbors. You love summer. Celebrate both with an end-of-season rager that spills out of your homes and into the street. To plan a proper block party, we enlisted Erik Mahan, manager of German alehouse Stammtisch and co-owner of cocktail spot Bantam Tavern. Having hosted around 10 Oktoberfests, the man knows a thing or two about shutting down a street.

KEEP IT STREET LEGAL You’ll need a permit from the city. Applications can be filed online, and they’re free—city staffers recommend allowing at least a week for paperwork to clear (visit pbotblockparty.com). Mahan says if you’re not planning on selling food or alcohol at your party, the process should be pretty streamlined. Block partiers are required to rent or buy street closure barricades (if you live within PBOT’s “Pink Zone,” which rings inner Portland, you can borrow ’em from the city for free) and distribute fliers ahead of time. Speaking of neighbors: “Watch out for the neighbor who gets too drunk,” warns Mahan. Recruit a few of the more diplomatic (read: formidable) folks to monitor bad behavior.

KEEP IT FUN For all-ages entertainment, borrow from Stammtisch’s playbook and have lawn games. Rent cornhole, ladderball, and giant versions of Jenga and
Connect Four from The Recreation Department ($60–80 each, plus delivery, rec-dept.com). Ante up for an inflatable bounce house from Portland Party Works (around $300 and up for four hours with delivery—they also rent popcorn machines, dunk tanks, and mechanical bulls!) or hire Mystique’s Fancy Faces ($100/hour and up, mystiquesfancyfaces.com) for face painting. Feeling flush? Document memories with UnikoFotoBus, an adorable Volkswagen microbus tricked out with a photobooth and a DJ ($600 and up for two hours, unikofotobus.com).

KEEP IT SIMPLE No need for a formal, sit-down feast. Neighbors can grill out, hold a potluck, or pool funds and order crowd-pleasers from local restaurants that cater at affordable rates. So Good Taste Noodle House sells its crisp-skinned Chinese roast pork and duck, and sides by the pound (order in person and take out, sogoodtastenoodle.com). Enlist Akadi for West African fare like stewed goat, sticky-sweet fried plantains, and addictive chile dipping sauce (akadipdx.com/catering). Or, order a full taco bar for 50 from Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon—fresh tortillas, beans, rice, and insanely good carnitas—for around $400 (salsaslocas.com/catering-2). For sweets, icy Italian stunner Pinolo Gelato will roll its adorable, shiny gelato bike cart on over (pinologelato.com/events), or have Jackalope Bakes deliver buttery “sprankle” cookies for everybody—the do-gooder outfit donates 10 percent of profits to progressive causes ($20/dozen, jackalopebakes.com).

Recipe: Pomegranate Paloma

Cool off the party with barman Erik Mahan’s pomegranate-infused spin on a Paloma, a well-balanced, citrusy sip he originally concocted to lubricate the crowd at a friend’s rehearsal dinner. His recipe makes enough to fill that 2-gallon jug cooler at least a few people on your block already own.

Combine 1.75 liters of Espolòn reposado tequila, 16 oz wine syrup,* 24 oz pomegranate juice, 16 oz grapefruit juice, and 16 oz fresh lime juice in a 2-gallon cooler jug with a spigot, then pour in 7.5 liters of seltzer.

Serve over ice in Solo cups with fresh mint and sliced lime garnish.

*For wine syrup, heat 1½ cups dry red wine (cheap is fine) with 1½ cups sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat.

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