Andy McMillan’s zero-proof bar, Suckerpunch, has been in the works for years, but it’s getting much closer to opening a permanent location. Starting Thursday, February 24, Suckerpunch will begin a pop-up residency at the Goat Blocks Thursdays through Sundays, serving a cocktail prix fixe complete with dessert. The return of the pop-up is a second start for Suckerpunch: After years of anticipation, McMillan plans to open the non-alcoholic cocktail bar later this year.
McMillan, the co-founder of art festival XOXO, wanted to give sober Portlanders a place to socialize and imbibe without alcohol, and also create a space for those interested in drinking inventive zero-proof cocktails for whatever reason. Originally, McMillan had planned to open Suckerpunch in 2020; however, after a brief run of cocktail bar pop-ups early that year, Suckerpunch went on hiatus for obvious reasons, instead selling non-alcoholic cocktail kits through an online market. Shoppers could easily build drinks at home that were as complex and nuanced as any alcoholic drink, but made with ingredients like kombucha, Wilderton’s non-alcoholic “spirits,” verjus, Smith Teamaker products, and local bitters.
Though the team plans to open a permanent location later this year, Suckerpunch is back to its pop-up ways, this time with an extended stay at a mixed-used space in the Goat Blocks on SE Belmont. Each night, visitors will sit down to a tasting menu of three cocktails, paired with dessert. The starting menu features a take on an Old Fashioned with roasted corn tea, smoked maple syrup, grape must, and barrel-aged bitters; a verjus and turmeric drinking vinegar concoction with Sanbitter, yuzu, and galangal; and a drink made with bergamot tea from Smith Teamaker, date syrup, orgeat, lemon, and aquafaba for a foamy top.
The program allows the Suckerpunch team to experiment with drinks and develop new recipes for the forthcoming bar, while also providing a cocktail-bar-style environment for Portlanders uninterested in booze — for the foreseeable future, or just for the night. The full tasting menu is $50, plus a 22 percent service charge. To start, the Suckerpunch residency will only be available by reservation; in the spring, the team hopes to attach a retail store for cocktail kits and ingredients.
Reservations for Suckerpunch open on Tuesday, February 22, with seatings between 6 and 11 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The pop-up will be located at at 1030 SE Belmont Street.