Months before Oregon legalized cocktails to go, Tyler Treadwell had a hunch and placed a bet.
"I could just feel in the air that it was going to happen," says the co-owner of Tulip Shop Tavern, "so I bought a can seamer."
Machines that seal aluminum containers—also known as crowlers—are more common at breweries. But Treadwell instantly found two uses for the one at his bar. First, it allowed him to package draft beer in 16-ounce cans instead of the jars he'd been relying on. Then he began experimenting with spirits in preparation for the influx of customers tired of playing bartender at home.
Tulip Shop's menu of to-go cocktails offers pretty much every classic concoction you can think of, each coming in a canister about the size of a Red Bull and wrapped in a custom black label splattered in white squiggles.
But if you'd like a break from tradition, you're not wrong if you end up selecting the Paper Tiger ($11) based on name alone. Bartender Darren Polak had a similar impulse when he first saw a strip joint that went by the same name in his hometown of Denver.
"It was like a grimy old man bar that served $2 Coors and had no cover—a rough place," Polak says. "But I always thought that the Paper Tiger was a cool name."
After pouring the porcelain-colored liquid over ice at home, a calming herbal aroma fills your nose as you lift the glass. The bright essence of grapefruit spins alongside lime cordial and a dash of salt, then warming notes of anise and ginger begin to crest courtesy of a somewhat rare spirit native to the Czech Republic called Becherovka. According to Treadwell, the liqueur is more often used at the Tulip Shop as a "bartender handshake," but he and Polak are pleased to have worked it so seamlessly into a mixed beverage.
"No one would ever order [Becherovka] because nobody knows what it is. But it's one of those things that I really like to show people," Treadwell says. "It's cheap and it's delicious."
It's also now part of the best tribute to what was once the lousiest place to catch a striptease in Denver—barring the absence of $2 Coors.
ORDER: Tulip Shop Tavern, 825 N Killingsworth St., 503-206-8483, tulipshoptavern.com. Noon-10 pm daily.