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October 23rd, 2013 MARTIN CIZMAR | Bar Reviews
 

Multnomah Whiskey Library: Booked

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Climb past the long line on the stairs leading to Multnomah Whiskey Library (1124 SW Alder St., 764-9374, mwlpdx.com) and you’ll find a little secretary’s desk. At the desk sits a young woman in a white blouse and chunky beaded necklace, backed by a man in a gray flannel suit, skinny maroon tie and Mad Men eyeglasses. “There’s a three-hour wait,” the woman says as you survey this den of distilled spirits, counting at least 20 empty chairs. “But if it’s just you, there might be room at the bar—though the stools haven’t arrived yet.” You make your way past the dimpled leather furniture toward the fireplace flanked by stacks of split wood. They hand you two menus, one for spirits they’re “concentrating on,” the other listing bottles on the shelves, which are spaced far apart on three tiers accessible only by a rolling brass library ladder. The selection isn’t quite as exhaustive as claimed—there are, for example, six Hardy brandies, half of what’s legally obtainable in Oregon—but things are for the most part fairly priced. Hardy VS, for example, is $35 for a bottle at the store and $8 per snifter here, while the Noces d’Or goes for $235 and $54, respectively. You order a dram and a bowl of candied hazelnuts and receive your drink on a leather coaster stamped with Library’s logo. You sip and stare at the portraits hanging on the walls—prominent figures in the history of whiskey, from Jack Daniel to George Washington. It’s enjoyable, except when the man in the suit comes to scoot you down the bar so the guy who laid the wood floor can drink with some buddies. “We just hopped a line of 200 people,” he tells them. One of the buddies asks for a whiskey that’s “very banana-y” and is steered toward a $20 shot. It’s time to go. There are still 20 empty chairs; the wait has grown to 3½ hours. 

 
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