Days before it opens December 20, Woodlark hotel bar Abigail Hall seems like a place someone’s rich mother holds her Daughters of the American Revolution meetings — plush leather seats, hand-painted floral walls, little marble tables. Owner Jennifer Quist doesn’t want the bar to feel stuffy, however; imagine the charismatic Multnomah Whiskey Library alum is throwing a house party there, instead. “I wanted it to be a fun, vibrant room. Not lounge-y, not sinking into armchairs. More joyful,” she says, sitting in a corner booth, grabbing handfuls of snack mix from a bowl. She pictures A Tribe Called Quest on the stereo, fancy vodka-Red Bulls rolling from the bar, and plates filled with her favorite foods: In-N-Out-style burgers in foil, buttermilk chicken strips, and... Waldorf salad?
“People say, ‘It feels old school,’ but this is the stuff I grew up eating,” she says, with an earnest shrug. She’s sitting with bar manager Daniel Osborne when chef and business partner Doug Adams pops in from the kitchen at Bullard, which just closed after lunch service. The two businesses operate out of the Woodlark, as well as the new Good Coffee location and kolache counter within the hotel’s posh lobby. Adams is bringing her nostalgic menu to life, from the dry-aged burger to the prawn cocktails. The two battled it out for ownership of Dungeness crab sandwich with tarragon mayo; instead of landing on the Bullard menu, Abigail Hall will hawk the crab rolls out of the lounge.
Osborne, the man behind the Bullard bar, is also handling Abigail Hall. The Teardrop Lounge expat kept the bar at Adams’ restaurant simple — recreations of classic cocktails, takes on things bartenders hear Portlanders order again and again. At Quist’s bar, Osborne is letting himself play, giving cocktails names like Ghost Write the Quip, remixing a Fernet and Cola with charred pineapple, and pairing vodka with Red Bull reduction. For those inclined to sit by the fireplace and lounge, he made Thursday’s Rags, a rum and Cardamaro cocktail to sip slowly. But like the pitchers of margaritas at Bullard, Abigail Hall will offer large-format martinis and Manhattans for the table, a nod to the bar at House of Prime Rib in San Francisco.
During that long wait for the hotel and Bullard to open, the team was given a deadline to come up with a concept for the “tavern space” within the historic Cornelius Hotel. The space was the originally a ladies reception hall, in a conveniently hip pink-and-green color scheme — the current aesthetic of the bar is modeled after the original design, from the floor tile to the original capitals framing the bar’s doors. It was International Women’s Day, and Quist started doing some research into important women in Portland history — she eventually found Abigail Scott Duniway, a Portland-based women’s suffrage activist. She could see her there, in the Cornelius Hotel lounge. That’s what she wanted to recreate: something strong, but feminine. Seeing Quist confidently relaxing in her bar, the description seems to fit.
• Woodlark [Official]
• Abigail Hall [Instagram]
• All previous Bullard coverage [EPDX]
• Portland Will Soon Have a Spot for Czech Breakfast Pastries Downtown [EPDX]