One of the great things about the Internet Age is the ability to get answers to questions. It’s probably the greatest thing, actually: we are curious monkeys and getting answers to questions helps set our minds at ease.
I’m going somewhere with this. Not far, even: I asked people on my Facebook feed where they would go for a drink if they were in North Portland. Difficulty level; no Saraveza (which is awesome, but I have been there.)
The response: Old Gold. The bloke who recommended it even agreed to meet me there for a drink, which is awesome. Almost every time one has a choice between drinking alone and drinking together, well, together is the better option.
The Old Gold is a whiskey bar, with the spirit offerings listed on a very large chalkboard near the entrance. The beers on tap were posted on an opposing wall nearby so I focused my attention to them, getting Double Mountain’s Chimney Stout, which is what I was sipping on when my buddy arrived.
He pointed to the small selection of whiskey and beer pairings which I had completely missed, and ordered a George Dunkel rye with the Chimney Stout back. I had a chance to taste the rye and it paired wonderfully with my beer. Whomever came up with that; good job.
I can’t help but feel a little bummed though. I had a good drink but I could have had a better one! On the other hand, if that’s my biggest complaint then what a great excuse to go back…
I have discovered the secret of a good wit, thanks to Double Mountain‘s White Riders of Conquest.
It tastes like applesauce. Homemade applesauce, with a nice dose of cinnamon and a hint of brown sugar, woven between an apple that isn’t quite as tart as a Granny Smith but has a similar dryness. It is good and you should try it, if this description appeals at all.
It’s a rather full bar but I am looking for Sparky….and he is not here. He’s a big man with a ZZ Top style beard, Lennon sunglasses, and a big smile. Smart, too: I seem to be fortunate in running into people who are smarter than me. We ran into each other often in the early days of this blog but it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen him and I suspect he and I are just not crossing paths. I certainly hope so: last we spoke he’d told me of some health issues he was working through so I hope he’s well. With the increased business I’ve noted on Mondays, he may just be stopping by at quieter times. He has struck me as the kind of man who prefers a calmer space.
Not that he isn’t boisterous: man has a hell of a laugh. Just that I got the impression he likes his cool down times to be cool. I get that.
Some nights the past comes back a little stronger though and I miss it. It’s weird: I don’t miss highschool for shit, for example. That whole event in my life could be hit with an H-bomb and I would not feel the slightest twinge. But there have been times when I have found small communities amongst the internet (many now defunct, sadly), amongst the odd, at the bars, and I find that I miss them. I do not know how to connect with them beyond being present whenever I can, leaving the door open should the distance between us be closed. What I do know is that there are people who are lost to me and I wish that they weren’t. It is life: a perfect imperfection.
There are many, many ways to go from here. Melancholy calls, evoking from the heart a longing for what could have been, made out from the cottonstuff of what was. However, I prefer to think of pubs a bit like Munden’s in Cynosure. Or perhaps Callahan’s. Someplace where anything is possible and the past can be as joyfully present as the future, and people would rather sit down and have a drink, bury the hatchet and talk, than bicker over who should have called whom last. So it is with Bailey’s. I prefer to think of it as a place where Sparky–or other absent friends–could come in and all would be well and whenever they choose to arrive next is entirely OK.
The Aalto Lounge is actually a great place for spy novels. The main room is narrow, there’s a back exit, and a large room that has stoner-turquoise lighting off to the side. The concentration of people in the main area, tables and a bar that barely let you by when they’re unoccupied lends itself to hiding in plain sight. Conversations are shrouded by the simple noise of the bar. Even now, with only six people here (including the bartender) I cannot understand the conversation of the couple ten feet from me. Conspiracy all but radiates from the dim light.
Come here after midnight, have a glass of Double Mountain IRA, set your companion up with a whiskey sour or a Merlot and start plotting.
It’s too cool for vampires and hipster although in that generally low-key Portland way. So that leaves spies. I could totally go for a resurgence of spy literature supplanting the shitty vampire novels. At least spies drink liquor.
Walking here in the early evening, I strolled down Hawthorne and saw so many faces looking grim without any discernible reason. The sun was out for the third time in a month and it was actually warm. In my darker moments, I want to become the Joker, forcing a rigor mortis smile upon them, screaming “It’s funny, don’t you get it?!”
I wonder if I have looked as grim as I made my way to these bars, unhappily grinding my way to my destination, no sense of the now, no pleasure in the future no—
Jebus. I know I didn’t look like that. I’m going to get a beer, damnit. Life ain’t so bad if you can afford the occasional beer.
PS: the bathrooms have a punk rock quality…you have been warned.