With eight restaurants, including the iconic Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons, John Gorham has flooded Portland with cultural traditions learned from his travels. Pollo Bravo is the latest restaurant concept, with two Downtown locations opened within a month of each other—one inside Pine Street Market, the other at 1128 SW Alder. While many have tasted Pollo Bravo's addictive-like-crack rotisserie chicken, a mashup of Mexican and Spanish styles, the restaurants are also importing a style of Spanish day drinking, fer vermut.
Fer vermut literally means "to do vermouth," and John's wife and business partner Renee Gorham tells Eater it's an activity. Fer vermut offers an alternative lifestyle, she says, one in which families, including kids, gather at bars for food, drink, and conversation.
"In Barcelona, it's a way to celebrate food and community by drinking responsible amounts of vermouth for several hours," says Renee. To pull this off without getting dizzy drunk, vermouth is served on ice with a one-liter siphon seltzer bottle on the side. As the vermouth disappears, just add soda to lengthen your drink.
Snacking is the other piece of the puzzle, and while the menus at the two Pollo Bravos differ, they both offer imported Spanish artisan foods. Find dishes very similar to what you might find in Spain—the authentic flavors built-in, since they were made in the place of origin. Think Confit Tuna Stuffed Pimientos del Piquillo, Romón Peña Sardines, and boards of Spanish cheeses. All of the artisan goods come in colorful tins and jars from Conserva, the specialty foods shop by the owners of Viridian Farm.
Currently, Pollo Bravo serves one white and one red vermouth by the glass, and the bartenders start pouring at 11 a.m. at both locations, seven days a week.