Tag Archives: sandy hut

On The Rail: Sandy Hut

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the Sandy Hut; my ambient memories are dark and tinted green but enjoyable. The Sandy Hut was one of Portland’s better known and loved dive bars so there was an understandable concern when the place was sold to new owners. What would they do? How would it change? So I’ve come to check it out now that it’s been renovated.

And wow, is it an awesome joint. It feels divey; wood paneling and lighting out of the 1970’s or at least what I seem to feel like the 1970’s was like. Plus, because it’s Portland I can get Ft George’s farmhouse ale.

It’s spicy from the yeast, with a hop bitterness followed by a citrus nip at the tongue at the end. It’s got a softness on the mouthfeel; makes me think of saisons and the clarity of the beer suggests that’s just what they did. It’s pretty good; both easy to drink and complex in the best ways. I feel like I lucked out on this pick!

There’s a man in an incredibly ugly plaid shirt and a straw hat that has loudly proclaimed that he used to live near here when he was a boy. “Same bar,” he says, “but so much better. It’s unbelievable.”

The man’s taste in shirts is questionable but is assessment of this bar isn’t. The coolers may not be installed yet (the bartender is pulling beers from buckets of ice out of view) but there’s a warmth to this place that I feel ought to keep the regular dive patrons while welcoming people who want to check it out.

I’d be happier if there was a better selection of beer on draft but there’s a Rainier draft handle that must be from the 1970’s and that earns a sliver of forgiveness.

The bartenders are still talking about the changes, too: it’s new to them as well. “There’s all these creepy manikins in the basement,” one says, “that they used to hang from the ceiling. It freaks me out whenever I have to walk in the office.”

There’s a BASEMENT here? Holy crap, I can barely imagine what might be lurking in the basement of the Sandy Hut.

One of the bartender stumbles for a moment. “Jesus Christ, we gotta get rid of that bucket,” he says. Yeah man. But I look forward to coming here again and  having a drink. It feels pretty damn fantastic in here and I hope the bar is rewarded for cleaning up.

Whatever You Say #34

Off to the Sandy Hut before dance class. Or ‘Handy Slut‘ as Barfly lovers (and probably most Portland bargoers) know the place.

My choices when I approach the bar are: ask one of the couple who are in the process of ordering or a dude with specs and a thin white beard, a lavender drink in front of him.

I go for the lavender drink. The couple next to me orders Guinness in the bottle (man) and two shots of something red (woman) so I feel like I dodged a bullet of some kind there.

mixed drinkWhen I ask the bespectacled man what he’s having: “Vodka with grape juice, ginger ale, orange juice and god only knows what else.” Well allllllll right.

The men watch Cincy-NY play baseball, talk about their kids. One man’s son has a terrible diet but wants to play football. The general consensus is that he’s not willing to attain the fitness of a football player. I tune that out pretty quickly to take stock of the rest of the place.

The couple is in their own world and I eye the woman’s red drinks with extreme suspicion. My instinct tells me nothing good will come of her combination of red stuff and his Guinness. The bartender has Sanctuary playing on a small TV perched high above the bar. Every so often her pace slows, between asking people if they’d like anything, and she looks up, watches a fantasy world and leavs behind the dingy daytime universe of bringing lunches to people who prefer their bars without windows.

She’s got a quiet hopefulness to her and I like that. I can’t stay to ask her story because class awaits and by the demure way she checks to see if I’d like another, she won’t tell her story to just anyone but sometime, perhaps she might.