With more than 1,500 individual bottles of liquor — and no, not just whiskey — the Multnomah Whiskey Library is set to open its doors tomorrow, October 8 after 10 months of build-out and booze research by owner Alan Davis (Produce Row) and bar manager/head librarian Tommy Klus. "Our intention was by no means driven by wanting to have a certain number of spirits," Davis says of the library concept, whose largest section focuses on his favorite drink, whiskey. "We wanted to have a really quality selection and... have a diverse survey within different categories of spirits. So, if there's a really phenomenal whiskey out of Kentucky that's 24 dollars, and we think it's better than the $150 one, we're going to go with the $24 one."
According to Davis, accessing the admittedly "overwhelming" spirits catalog will mimic the intimate nature of the library space. A rotating menu will highlight a selection of about 12-14 spirits that "correlates to our bigger collection," Davis says, with the broken-down tasting menu changing every two weeks. "For two weeks at a time we'll highlight, say, seven Scotches, five bourbons, a few ryes, a tequila. Categorically, we're carrying an assortment that will make it approachable for the customer." Cocktails by Klus will highlight traditional techniques and preparations, while three beers on tap (featuring one local, an English ale, and a stout) supplement a 10-12 beer bottle menu.
"We're coming to it from a really traditional hospitality approach," Davis says. "The library's a place you can go and have a conversation. It's an intimate environment, it's extremely comfortable and we're not trying to push [spirits education]." The comfortable space — which borrows design details from university libraries (large study tables with desk lamps), a masculine lodge (fireplace and leather chairs), and grandmother's attic (TV trays for dining) — emphasizes personal service. Unlike most bars, the Library offers table side service, with cocktails and neat pours poured for the drinker table side. "You have to be very careful for it not to be pretentious, and I think we're achieving that because we're all just excited about that we're doing," Davis says. "We're all similarly disposed in caring about providing a great experience for people. And that's what it's about."
Multnomah Whiskey Library opens tomorrow. Hours of operation: 4p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Saturday.
· Multnomah Whiskey Library [Official site]
· All Previous Multnomah Whiskey Library Coverage [Eater PDX]