One of those hidden gems in the Portland landscape is a tiny bar called Kask. Situated on the back side of the Grüner restaurant on SW 12th it is so small you could blink and miss it.
With the bar it couldn’t have more than 25 seats in the entire place. It is tight and close, dark and loud. All of which is totally irrelevant. The minimal decoration is all on the walls and around the front window. There is some fantastic chalkboard art on the walls and behind the bar, but really what catches the eye is the bar itself. It’s a smooth but uneven wooden bar that has character coming out the eyeballs.
Once you’re seated you’re in the power of a squad of well dressed cocktail masters. The night I chose to visit was mid week and it wasn’t busy so we were able to bogart the attention of at least one of the two on duty at any time.
Their appetizer menu is short, but even item on it is crafted with precision. The beet pickled, deviled eggs were purple and fantastic. Their meat and cheese plate is presented on the menu front and center. At $10 for two items and $18 for four it is a rather expensive appetizer. I don’t think it’s intended for more than one person, the size of the portions wasn’t big enough to keep you going for long. What is does do is play merry havoc with your taste buds. The cheeses are all pungent and wonderful, the meats salty and thin.
Their antique looking bar menu breaks down drinks into base spirits and then gives three or so each of shaken and stirred. Every single one we tried was amazing. They have their skills in hand and know exactly what they’re doing. Everything from their $5 daily punch to their negroni flip is worth taking out for a spin.
Their stock of bottles behind the bar is impressive compared to many places I’ve been. I think only Oven and Shaker has a bigger stock from the places I’ve reviewed. Their new bar manager was on hand that night and he was more than willing to indulge my curiosity with a couple of off menu choices.
I was able to order an original aviation with Creme Yvette , and we made up a cocktail on the spot with Coole Swan, House Spirits Coffee Liqueur, and cherry liqueur. They didn’t have any Galliano but I think they will the next time I go.
I’m going back as soon as I can, hope to see you there.