If you ever want to guess how inclined someone might be to abandon all inhibitions, simply try assessing the audaciousness of their glass. The bigger the beer stein, tiki mug or rum barrel, the more likely the person holding it is to shrug off responsibility and carouse until the bar lights come up.
Once you start hollowing out oversized fruit to use as a chalice, though, all bets are off.
That is unleashed, OOO, vacation-mode drinking—freedom at its finest. For years, Alfredo Climaco has provided Portland with that tropical indulgence by serving piña coladas in pineapples at Portland Night Market and random street fairs. While you can now get his signature beverage in kit form from the new Northeast Glisan Street bar Tropicale, I prefer to leave the mixing to the experts. Although the piña colada is not among the limited lineup of drinks made to order, that gives you the perfect excuse to try something new and discover Climaco's skill with mezcal.
The clear, plastic Solo cups the Oaxaca Forever ($14) comes in are more frat party than playa, but the layers of flavors nevertheless transport you to that Mexican beach—first through a subtle wood smoke that wafts in the background like a bonfire on the sand, then by a swell of grapefruit that crashes against a dash of warming cinnamon.
The name of the drink is a nod to the home state of Climaco's father, which also happens to be the world capital of mezcal. The assertive spirit is typically made with the cooked core of the agave plant, which Oaxaca boasts the most varieties of in Mexico thanks to its diverse terrain and climate. Climaco, who grew up in the neighboring state of Puebla, developed his passion for mezcal during trips to Oaxaca with his dad, where they would work their way through flights at the region's numerous mezcalerias.
I have yet to travel that far south in the country, but if Oaxaca is anything like its namesake cocktail—dark and sultry yet refreshing and as sunny as a morning glass of OJ—it'll be the first trip I book, post-pandemic.
GO: Tropicale, 2337 NE Glisan St., 503-894-9484, tropicale.co. Noon-9:30 pm Wednesday-Sunday.