The latest chapter for Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson values food over caffeine, and he’s surrounding himself with some of Portland’s most talented culinary pros in the process. Woodsman Tavern and Roman Candle Baking Co. have both been hits, and Ava Gene’s is a seasonal Italian dream with a peaked roof in Southeast Portland. I expected the food from Executive Chef Joshua McFadden and Chef de cuisine Jason Hegedus to hit, given all the accolades, and it did, but I didn’t realize the cocktail program was so strong.
When my wife and I sat down at the marble bar, it took a bit to realize we were facing bar manager Douglas Derrick, previously with Nostrana and now Ava Gene’s Bar Manager. I told him what we ordered for dinner, and he promptly paired a Hackalope.
Hackalope ($12) seamlessly blends blanco tequila, Maraschino liqueur, high-fiber jicama juice, and high-acid Seville orange juice (used like lime juice), shaken and served on the rocks with a Jacobsen habanero salt rim, and a rosemary garnish.
When he served me the drink, Derrick said, “The joke is that the J in jackalope is silent.” I’d give the joke so-so marks, but that drink was seriously refreshing.