Sometimes you just have to hand it to McMenamins. Ubiquity breeds contempt, but those passport-toting groupies exist because of the boozy wonderland that is Edgefield and the soaking pool at the Kennedy School, where for only $5 you can sit in hot water on a rainy day, sipping a house-brewed beer. McMenamins' new retail outlet and bar at the edge of Slabtown, 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop (2290 NW Thurman St., 971-202-7256), has similarly undeniable charms.
It is well-stocked, with wine, cider, beer and even, in a surprise twist, liquor. And though the liquor is all McMenamins', the beer and cider include well-curated guests from around the globe, like Traquair Jacobite Ale from Scotland, currently ranked the 20th-best beer in the U.K., and Bitburger Pilsner in a can. If you're looking for McMenamins alcohol, this is the place to go: Almost everything it makes is available here. Seating is limited, and food has to be ordered from McMenamins Tavern & Pool next door. But during happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 pm daily, a house beer is $4 and a taster tray is $6.75, which ends up being dangerous for those of us who work in the neighborhood.
There's also a selection of McMenamins-branded gifts, from leather beer coozies to laser-cut wooden necklaces, and a choice of British chocolate bars—get yourself a smooth caramel Galaxy—that make it more likely our family members will receive birthday presents. Before McMenamins took over the shop, it was called 23rd Avenue Market and run by Homer Medica for more than 50 years. Medica died in 2014, which means the new bottle shop is enhancing the neighborhood without turning into another sad gentrification buyout story.