Recommendations at Bar Casa Vale

Have you heard of Bar Casa Vale? They opened last year, and Willamette Weekly declared them Bar of the Year 2017. I’ve mostly been for drinks, particularly their goblets of gin and tonics although they have lots of other amazing cocktails, but recently I also got a chance to try more of their menu and wanted to share my recommendations with you.

Bar Casa Vale Bar Casa Vale Clam Conserva with Lardo Toast, Fried olives with sobrasada and piri piri mayo

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Barlow PDX October Cocktails

I’ve been a big fan of Barlow Artisanal Cocktail bar since they opened 2 years ago – the vintage atmosphere is glamorous, and the cocktails there are a combination of tasty and also a show! I wanted to highlight their October cocktails that I tried last week which are a sly nod to Halloween.
Barlow PDX special Halloween inspired cocktails during my visit October 2016

I always like sitting at the bar as I have always found the best service at the bar and am willing to sacrifice the more cushy seats by the windows that are also perfect for huddling among friends or coworkers for chatting over your drinks or with your date before a show or day downtown. Barlow is literally across the street from Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and a block away from Regal Cinemas Fox Tower. They are also a great place for drinks downtown being only a few blocks from many hotels or after a day visiting museums like the the Oregon Historical Society or Portland Art Museum.

The exterior of Barlow Artisanal Bar The interior of Barlow Artisanal BarThe interior of Barlow Artisanal Bar The interior of Barlow Artisanal Bar 

Besides, by sitting at the bar you can watch them make all the cocktails using liquid nitrogen to cool the glass… a show all night long of mixology magic.

Here’s a look at what I sampled that had a nice nod to the spooky time coming up. Above, you saw the Fraise Corpse Reviver cocktail with Strawberry Sour laced with absinthe with choice of Ransom Dry Gin (fashioned after Holland styles but produced locally here in Oregon) or Bols Genever Gin (Holland). I loved that all the drinks offered an option of two spirits – so even if you like a particular drink, you could try it two different ways if you like. This particular cocktail is dangerously delicious and easy to drink –  I didn’t find it sour as so much half strawberry and half anise flavor with herbaceous backbone.

My favorite was the White Zombie cocktail with coconut cream and tropical tonic and overproof rum of either Cruzan Estate Light Rum or El Dorado 3 year. This is obviously fruity and creamy and what I really liked was the mouthfeel texture which is something you don’t always get in cocktails. This drink would be perfectly in place on the beach or pool side too.
Barlow PDX cocktail for October 2016 of White Zombie cocktail with coconut cream and tropical tonic and overproof rum of either Cruzan Estate Light Rum or El Dorado 3 year.

Ghost World cocktail with apple and mint and Japanese whiskey choice of either Suntory Toki or Nikka Coffey Grain was one that is surprisingly light despite the whisky base because Japanese whiskeys are more mild and smooth than American and Europe Whiskey and has threads of slight fruit and floral notes that are subtle. Japanese whiskys are gaining popularity and trending –  learn more at this great Thrillist article on Japanese whisky brands.
Barlow PDX cocktail for October 2016 of Ghost World with apple and mint and Japanese whiskey choice of either Suntory Toki or Nikka Coffey Grain Barlow PDX cocktail for October 2016 of Ghost World with apple and mint and Japanese whiskey choice of either Suntory Toki or Nikka Coffey Grain Barlow PDX cocktail for October 2016 of Ghost World with apple and mint and Japanese whiskey choice of either Suntory Toki or Nikka Coffey Grain

Tempest Tea, an uprooted colonial punch with brandy, peach, and islay smoke with either George Dickel Rye or James E Pepper rye – check out the layers in the glass. The smokiness here is a mellow compliment to the punch that I could also imagine in a glass handled punch glass.
Barlow PDX cocktail for October 2016 of Tempest Tea, an uprooted colonial punch with brandy, peach, and islay smoke with either George Dickel Rye or James E Pepper rye Barlow PDX cocktail for October 2016 of Tempest Tea, an uprooted colonial punch with brandy, peach, and islay smoke with either George Dickel Rye or James E Pepper rye Barlow PDX cocktail for October 2016 of Tempest Tea, an uprooted colonial punch with brandy, peach, and islay smoke with either George Dickel Rye or James E Pepper rye

Ernest, Old Pal cocktail is a Beachcomber’s Negroni riff with secretly blended spiced grapefruit (I think it includes cinnamon…?) with Hamilton Overproof Dark Rum or Lemon Hart 151 is not a Halloween inspiration, but instead a nod to Donn Beach (Ernest) the founding father of Tiki.
Barlow PDX cocktail for October 2016 of Ernest, Old Pal a Beachcomber's Negroni with secretly blended spiced grapefruit with Hamilton Overproof Dark Rum or Lemon Hart 151 is a nod to Donn Beach (Ernest) the founding father of Tiki.

I ran out of steam/ahem sobriety so can’t speak for the Candy Warhol cocktail with Brazilian fruit and rhubarb and choice of Gordon’s or Ketel One vodka but here’s a shot from their Instagram

Since I last wrote about them two years ago, they have scaled back their food menu which is also now simplified to primarily snacks, with the main hearty bites (which you might need if you have more than a couple drinks) of grilled cheese, Croque Madame, or a double burger, or go with rich cheesiness with their Poutine or with their Mac and Cheese. The food is intended as something to nibble on or keep you sober rather than be a dinner meal. And their frites go with everything! They have an early and late happy hour – Mon and Sat 3 – 6 PM and 10 PM – midnight.

Which of these cocktails sounds up your alley? Have you been to or heard of Barlow before?

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