Adam Robinson aims to confuse.
“I don’t want you to know exactly what you’re getting,” says the bartender and owner of Deadshot.
He’s currently mixing drinks alongside food from recently resurrected Ping, a Portland restaurant last seen in 2012. For Robinson, the partnership is at once a lifeline and a dream come true. Deadshot’s longtime culinary partner, Holdfast, closed in October 2020 due to the financial strain of the pandemic, leaving the bar in need of food to serve alongside its alcohol. Meanwhile, Ping, a former property of Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker, was mounting a comeback, and Robinson remains a fan: When he worked at Park Kitchen a decade ago, he ate Ping once a week. Now, the two operations share space and ingredients.
Ping’s food, inspired by the flavors of Singapore, Hanoi, Tokyo and Bangkok, pairs well with Robinson’s style, which draws from his time living in Taiwan and traveling throughout East Asia.
“I’ve always used Asian ingredients––bitter melon has been in my cocktails since Deadshot was a pop-up,” Robinson says. “Toasted rice powder, galangal, and pandan are always flavors I’ve gravitated toward.”
Robinson makes cocktails that are, in his words, “complex, approachable, and leave you wondering.” He weaves this guesswork into the whole process, from creation to naming. The “Renegade Princess v.3,” originally made with nori and jasmine and named, respectively, for Disney princesses Ariel and Jasmine, is now in its third iteration on the Deadshot menu. It no longer has the namesake ingredients, but maintains its floral, grounded roots. Robinson chooses words like “chocolate,” and “coconut” to describe the translucent orange drink, leaving one to wonder where the cream and dark brown specks are hiding.
Robinson breaks it down: Coconut oil imparts flavor to white rum through a process called fat-washing. After the liquid substances commingle at room temperature, Robinson freezes the mixture, forcing the coconut oil to solidify. Once skimmed, the rum is left with a curious hint of beach. The chocolate comes from bitters, and the floral note from chamomile syrup. There is a peppery musk from gin that’s been infused with turmeric, and a savory, souplike scent that comes before your sip. Attribute that to a spritz of Combier Kummel, a liqueur from Holland made with caraway, anise and cumin. It’s crisp, smooth and earthen like a medicinal tea, reading almost as a homemade vermouth. The cocktail is worth your $13.
You can dine on the patio, but if ordering drinks to go, they come in one of two forms: a juice bottle, for those that need shaking, or a clear Capri Sun-style plastic pouch for drinks like the Renegade Princess that are usually stirred. This royal cocktail comes premixed alongside a dehydrated lime round, a teeny clear spritz bottle of the Dutch liqueur, a “B(ig) F(ucking) (ice) C(ube),” and instructions to assemble.
While the at-home process is fun, Robinson is eager for indoor dining to return so he can make drinks to order and patrons can enjoy Ping’s food hot off the grill grates.
“Having it here, in person,” he says, “is a whole different experience.”
ORDER: Deadshot/Ping, 2133 SE 11th Ave., 971-990-9887, deadshotpdx.com. 4-10 pm Wednesday-Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday-Sunday.