In 2018, five of the nation’s best-known chefs came together at Feast Portland to throw an alcohol-free multicourse dinner. If you haven’t worked in kitchens, you might not fully understand the weight of this concept. Its importance is abundantly clear to those who have worked in the drug-and-alcohol-fueled bar and restaurant industry.
Chefs Gregory Gourdet (Kann), Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon, Canard), Sean Brock (Husk Nashville), Michael Solomonov (Zahav in Philadelphia), and Bizarre Foods TV host Andrew Zimmern are no strangers to that environment. Sharing their own journeys with sobriety alongside fine cuisine made Feast Portland’s first Zero Proof dinner a huge success.
Since then, Portland’s zero-proof food and beverage movement has only gotten bigger and better. Many restaurant and bar menus now include creative alcohol-free drinks that pack a lot more punch than your standard San Pellegrino with lime juice.
Where to Find Non-Alcoholic Drinks in Portland
Hip North Williams Avenue coffee shop and bar Either/Or offers a variety of rotating coffee mocktails, including the Salty Russian. This non-alcoholic take on a White Russian, made with an alcohol-free Kahlúa and coffee-based vinegar, emulates vodka. Shaken with vanilla cream and garnished with a chocolate coffee salt rim, it’s also available as the non-dairy Salty Philly. The Coffee Flip, made with a whole egg, is also a permanent menu fixture. Seasonal drink offerings — including a delicious faux Negroni during Negroni Week — are highlighted on Instagram: @eitherorcafe.
Southeast Portland vegan restaurant and pisco bar Epif serves up exciting non-alcoholic cocktails inspired by the Andes region of South America. One of their most interesting drinks, the Osito Feliz, boasts a delightful flavor palate of iced orange black tea, turmeric-peppercorn vegan honey, lemon and vanilla bitters. If you love a fruity, tangy cocktail, try The Mews, made with tangerine, mango shrub, Demerara sugar, lime, sparkling water and tiki bitters.
Just south of Either/Or on Williams, trendy Thai fusion spot Eem offers a selection of non-alcoholic “Clear Headed” cocktails. Sober since 2014, acclaimed bartender Eric Nelson devotes about a third of the menu to no-proof drinks. For creamy flavors, try Goth Tears, made with Thai tea, oat milk, egg, nutmeg and black walnut. In contrast, Change of Address is a flavorful mix of Coca-Cola, maple, shoyu, lemon and cinnamon.
If you’re looking for complex flavor and a fine-dining atmosphere, visit Departure in downtown Portland. Formerly helmed by nationally acclaimed sober chef Gregory Gourdet, Departure offers a handful of zero-proof specialties. The Geomun Island is made with sugar cane juice, kuro sato (Japanese black sugar), ginger syrup, lime and cardamom. The Matsya mixes strawberry Thai basil Som drinking vinegar, Thai chili agave syrup, lemon and soda water. Bonus: You can take in the city views with a fancy non-alcoholic drink in hand from Departure’s beautiful rooftop.
Kann and Sousol
James Beard Foundation award-winning chef, Gregory Gourdet, named his acclaimed restaurant Kann (meaning “cane” in Haitian creole) as a tribute to his favorite childhood snack, freshly-harvested sugar cane. His no-proof cocktail menu marries classic Haitian flavors like tamarind and passionfruit with creative ingredients like salted strawberry sugar, botanicals, and house-made cordials and syrups. Try the Kowolsol with coconut milk, soursop and mint: refreshingly fruity with creamy, custardy undertones.
If you want to skip dinner for small plates and even more mocktail options, head underneath Kann to Sousòl. Chef Gourdet, who self-identifies as sober, created a curated menu of zero-proof drinks as a way to include non-drinkers like himself. Whether you’re hankering for sweet and fresh or earthy and spicy, let the menu guide your order with its helpful taste directions.
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