Poison’s Rainbow, the anticipated bar from indie band Modest Mouse’s frontman Isaac Brock, opened March 12 with little intel from the inside. Now open, the team is far more forthcoming with the details.
Below, an idea of what to expect along with a first look inside at some of the best interior details.
Who’s behind it: Brock is, of course, the mastermind behind the lime-green-painted bar and a few acid-kitsch art pieces, but he has a lot of people helping him. Co-owners Matt Brown, one of the founders of Bunk Bar and Jessica Williams, a seasoned ChefStable alum, help keep the business side on track. In the kitchen, the deep-dish pizza gurus Ranch Pizza make spicy boiled peanuts (Brock’s recipe) and crisp-outside, fluffy-inside pizza cooked in sheet pans, served with a side of tangy (some might say divisive) ranch.
For those unfamiliar with Ranch Pizza’s original Division pop-up, the spot will have plenty of distinctive takes on classic pies, including a version of Hawaiian pizza with pineapple, bacon, and jalapenos. The company’s house-made dressing is also available on a salad. Another location is coming soon to Woodlawn, but the Division location is a no-go.
The full opening menu is below:
Behind the bar: Portland actress Kelly Godell handles the drinks, scoring some more points for the performer side of the bar. She designed most of the cocktails, which are all priced under $10 “out of respect for the neighborhood.”
“I didn’t want to do anything crazy,” she says, “just nice, approachable cocktails with structure.”
Two cocktails were distinctly Brock’s idea: The Fat Russian, made with ice cream instead of milk, is similar to a root beer float, with vodka, Kahlua and cherry. He also designed the Regalman with Tito’s and limoncello.
The bar also includes a few “scoots,” or small, one-ounce shots with a tiny chaser.
Uh... scoots? Yeah, scoots. One-ounce shots and “little baby beers,” in Godell’s words.
“Scoots are great because they don’t get you trashed, but they’re fun to do with your friends,” Godell says.
Brown attributes the name to Portland bartender Ansel Vickery (Free House), though they’re pretty close to a mini boilermaker. On the menu at Poison’s Rainbow, the shot and beer combos are named for particular friends and team members. For example, the Jessi Lynn, a shot of Espolon Blanco and a Coronita, is named for co-owner Williams.
What’s the deal with the name? Williams and Brown say they exchanged maybe 150 different potential names with Brock, many littered with expletives or inducing serious cringes. Willamette Week broke the potential name ‘Glory Hole’ (“mostly a joke,” Brown says), but Brown says Brock still bothers him about his favorite suggestion, ‘Magic Fucking Flute.’ Other notable examples: ‘Dildo Box Dioramas,’ ‘Trash Panda,’ and ‘Golden Casket.’
The team landed on Poison’s Rainbow. Originally, when asked about the story behind the name, Brown said, ‘‘I’d rather people define it for themselves.” The real gist? Brock liked the name ‘Snakes in a Rainbow,’ and the name eventually evolved. “You know when you see a poison rainbow in a puddle where somebody poured gasoline in it?”
So how involved is Brock, really? He tends to play around with the art: making some and sourcing everything else. The dioramas littered across the back of the bar are his doing, a pet project of his at the Modest Mouse warehouse and Andy-Warhol-style hangout Ice Cream Party.
He made a set of chandeliers with fishing lures, which are in the process of going up across the bar. His art, limited to a few hidden gems among the bar’s decor, often involves neon colors and plastic tchotchkes.
“If he had his way, the whole bar would look like an acid trip,” Brown says.
What he sources comes from local artists around town. No piece will stick along too long.
“It’ll keep changing,” Brown says. “This is his new toy.”
Modest Mouse goes on tour in April, so Eaters hoping to spot Brock at the bar ought to visit soon.
If you go: Poison’s Rainbow is open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday through Sunday.
Update: March 14, 2017, 1:46 p.m.
This story was updated to include information about Modest Mouse’s tour.
Poison’s Rainbow [Official]
Poison’s Rainbow [Instagram]
Modest Mouse Frontman’s Bar Open in Kerns [EPDX]
Modest Mouse Frontman’s Portland Bar Looks To Be Opening Very Soon [EPDX]
Crazy-Popular Ranch Pizza Will Open a New Bar With Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse [WWeek]