We’re Very Happy That Portland Bartenders Can Finally Drink on The Job

For a state where you still have to go to a special store to buy liquor, it’s a good start.

Double Dragon (Henry Cromett)

At downtown's best beer bar, I stood dumbfounded at the board. There were too many options. "How's that Ommegang?" I asked, pointing to a beer that'd been aged four years in the bar's cellar.

"I didn't get a chance to try that one," the bartender said.

Until this year, that might have been the end of it.

But instead, he did the gentlemanly thing and poured us each a small sample.

"Huh," he said.

"Not bad," I agreed.

If this all sounds like a normal exchange, that's because it is. But until December 2016, it was technically illegal. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission had a strict ban on sippin' 'n' servin'.

For a city that's serious about craft beverage, this is obviously crippling for a bartender. The guy pouring your beer should be allowed to take a nip of that just-tapped IPA to make sure it's nice and fresh, and a mixologist should be permitted to stick a straw into that bloody mary, cap it with a thumb, and pull it out to make sure it didn't end up too hot.

Finally, the charade is over—at least for beer and wine. The OLCC's rule change means servers can sample drinks to make sure they're not flawed, and to facilitate server education and wine tastings. Tastings are legally limited to a maximum of 1 ounce per serving and a maximum of 6 ounces total, about half a beer.

So we're not quite Washington, which allows brewpub personnel to drink on the job, or Colorado, where liberal laws mean anyone tending a dive is likely to be quietly sauced. But for a state where you still have to go to a special store to buy liquor, it's a good start.

"Is that nice you can finally just sample a beer?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. "I always hated having to go back behind the partition."

Welcome to Reasons to Love Portland 2017

1. Portland Is Telling Donald Trump That He Won't Get Away With This
2. We're Rich! Portland Has The Nation's Fastest Growing GDP
3. Here's How Far Portlanders Have Ridden in the First Six Months of BikeTown
4. We're Very Happy That Portland Bartenders Can Finally Drink on The Job.
5. When the Snow Hit, Portlanders Saved Lives By Volunteering at Homeless Shelters
6. At Long Last, Portland Has The Kinky Coffee Shop It's Needed
7. A Selected List of All Portland's Recent Number 1 Rankings
8. Move Over PCT: You'll Soon Be Able to Mountain Bike From Washington to California
9. Oregon Has The Nation's Cheapest Weed. Thank God.
10. This is the Best Ski Season Mount Hood Has Had Since Obama Was a Senator
11. Nobody Snowdays Harder Than Portland
12. Portland Finally Has Architecture Worth Arguing About
13. Check Out This Crazy New Recording Studio in a Former Library in Deep Southeast
14. Weed Delivery Will Begin in Portland Any Day Now
15. In Portland, You Never, Ever Need To Call Domino's
16. Portland Is Home to the Most Liberal College in America. No, Not That One.
17. There's A Forgotten Wonder In Oregon City. It'll Soon Be Revealed
18. Portland's Blazers Bootleg T-Shirts Are Lit
19. Portland is Metal AF
20. ILOVEMAKONNEN Moved To Portland. No, For Real
21. Sorry, Donald, We Won't Help You Deport Our Neighbors.
22. Portland Now Has a Patriarchy-Free Social Club and Workspace
23. Oregon is the New Truffle King of the World
24. Check Out These Photos of the Winter Light Festival
25. In Portland, You Can See Every Movie Nominated For an Oscar in the Theater
26. Portland Art Museum is Tapping into the Legacy of Arguably Oregon's Greatest Artist
27. Yes, Portland Has More Pinball Machines Than New York and Los Angeles
28. Portland Has Vegan Everything. A Selected List.
29. In Portland, Dive Bars Never Really Die

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.