Clyde Common inaugurates a series of articles exploring Portland's best cocktail bars and the hamburgers that inhabit them.
Gazing out the window, cocktail in hand, I realized that Clyde Common may be Portland's best bar for people watching. Hip out of towners from the attached Ace Hotel milled about the sidewalk as the ubercool bike set and delightfully trashy Stark St folk passed by - every Portland cliche well represented. The soundtrack isn't bad either. Behind me at the large busy bar were the rants of local cooks packing their chef's knives and touring musicians attempting to brag their way into bed with dolled up ladies. But I had trouble paying attention, my drink was just too interesting and there was a burger on the way.
Clyde Common puts equal emphasis on it's kitchen and it's bar, a Portland trend I greatly welcome. Captained by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the large U-shaped bar churns out a rotating list of creative cocktails and a dizzying variety of bourbon and rye's including $55 pours of Pappy Van Winkle 23yr. A friend and I mused over the idea of a drinking game involving a casino-style spinning wheel with every bourbon represented - whatever whiskey you land on your companion has to purchase for you. What do you think guys, a small one under the chalkboard? OK, maybe not, but the real attraction here is the cocktail menu, especially during happy hour (3-6 and 11-close) when a generous selection of the menu is available for $5.
A recent outing included:
The Dissident - Becherovka, house-made Tonic Water, Lime(pictured at the top of this article)
Becherovka is Czech digestif derived from more than 30 herbs and a colorful past. This riff on the G&T is known in the Czech Republic as a Beton, and what really makes it special here is the house tonic water - bitter, surprisingly sweet, and complex this is a perfect after dinner gut healer.Lately I've noticed a creative burger option on the happy hour or 'bar' menu at almost every destination cocktail bar in town, and damn if I'm not going to eat all of them. My 'hamburger sandwich' ($6) with bacon ($1) and cheddar ($1) seduced me on site with that great fast-food style bun. Creative twists like a puree of dried tomatoes instead of tomatoes/ketchup and pickled onions in place of onions/pickles cleverly simplified the condiments. The cheddar was gooey and the bacon nice and crisp for a change - I never once looked like a dog struggling with a chew toy. I felt the beef was well seasoned but really fall apart texturally (high fat content?), which was fine as the sandwich held itself together like a champ. Tang and subtle sweetness from the tomato puree and pickled onions, great proteins, and a hell of a bun made for a damn near perfect 'six dollar burger'.
Although the burger doesn't come with any sides it's a meal unto itself, but we ordered some marcona's & olives ($3) and the charcuterie board ($5) for the sake of gluttony.