All the Drinks Are New at Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Benjamin Amberg’s Hotel Bar, Pacific Standard

“It’s not not Clyde Common. But it’s also not Clyde Common.”

Once a band—Radiohead, let’s say, or Sleater-Kinney—gets to a certain point in their careers, not only are they ready to stop playing most of the old songs, but fans who just want more of the same can get it from the bands they’ve influenced. So it is for Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

At Pacific Standard, the new spot from Morgenthaler and longtime colleague Benjamin “Banjo” Amberg, you won’t find a barrel-aged Negroni, ice cream grasshopper, or any of the other drinks that the two men became known for at their former posts, Clyde Common and Pépé le Moko. Of course, this is not entirely by choice. Those Ace Hotel establishments were both casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now Morgenthaler and Amberg are across the river, doing their own dream version of the hotel bar that’s also meant for locals, this time at Kex. Whereas Clyde was separate from the Ace lobby, Pacific Standard basically is the Kex’s lobby. And there’s still a photo booth. As Morgenthaler puts it: “It’s not not Clyde Common. But it’s also not Clyde Common.”

The biggest differences: Morgenthaler and Amberg are now owners rather than managers. They got to design their own bar-specific food menu, with none of those pesky chefs to interfere, including such bites as Walla Walla French onion dip, a Castroville artichoke with umami mayo, Willapa Bay oysters and steak frites. And the cocktails are all new, including myriad low- and no-alcohol options (and the alcohol by volume for all of them printed on the menu).

Sure, there are still drinks you’ve heard of: an espresso martini, for instance, with a two-per-person limit due not to its overproof vodka, but rather the caffeine. And you can always order an old favorite from Clyde Common—or any classic cocktail—plus Morgenthaler’s Bourbon Renewal is available in its Nikasi canned version.

“I just have no shortage of drink ideas,” Morgenthaler says. “So it’s nice to have a completely blank canvas and not say, ‘Well, we have to save these four slots.’”

Morgenthaler breaks down four of Pacific Standard’s standouts:

Rosé Negroni ($12)

Gordon’s Gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, Yzaguirre Rosé Vermouth, sea salt, lemon peel.

21.6% ABV

“We’re kind of known for all of the things that we’ve done to the Negroni over the years,” Morgenthaler says. “So why not try something else, while also leaving that stuff behind?”

This summery cocktail is basically a white Negroni gone pink, with Spanish vermouth and the bianco version of Luxardo’s Campari-like bitter aperitif. Sea salt rounds out the flavors and also tames the bitterness…though it’s not that bitter to begin with.

“It’s very soft,” Morgenthaler says. “It shouldn’t taste exactly like a Negroni. It should taste like a rosé version of a Negroni. Just like a rosé pinot noir is a lighter version of pinot noir.”

Tiger Balm ($11)

Housemade non-alcoholic spirit, Wilderton Lustre, pineapple, lime.

0% ABV

Morgenthaler came up with his own N/A concoction—made with vinegar, tea, bay leaf and other herbs—not just for the flavor, but because local producer Wilderton’s citrusy and floral Lustre would be too expensive as the only base.

“All of those [commercially distilled N/A products] are clocking in around 35 bucks for a fifth, which at 2 ounces is a $14 cocktail,” he says. “I just have a real dilemma with charging $14 for a non-alcoholic drink. As good as those things are, at the end of the day they’re still, like, flavored water.”

While the name Tiger Balm cries out “medicinal rub,” the drink is more tropical than spicy. It’s pineapple forward and comes over nugget ice, with the zero-proof spirit adding an earthy note.

The All-Day Bloody Mary ($10)

Icelandic vodka, house bloody mary mix, pickle.

9.9% ABV

“[O]nce the sun goes down, you can’t drink a bloody mary in public,” Morgenthaler wrote in his 2018 book Drinking Distilled. “Only men with lower-back tattoos do that.”

But he also wrote that drinking rules are fun to break. So with Pacific Standard currently not opening until 3 pm (that will eventually change), and with the bloody mary feeling like a necessary hotel cocktail, Morgenthaler decided to come up with “a lighter, more refreshing alternative” that you might drink on its own, or even over dinner.

This zestier version starts with Reyka Vodka and a small can of Campbell’s Tomato Juice, plus a mix that includes Worcestershire, Tabasco and black pepper. “The vodka and the tomato juice are constant, so if you’re going to get it lighter you have to make everything happen in that mix. It drinks more like a Caesar, or what they call a tomato juice cocktail—not heavy, like tomato soup.”

Palm Desert Date Shake ($12)

Cinnamon-agave date syrup, Tillamook vanilla ice cream, Lustau brandy, Pedro Ximénez sherry, whipped cream.

1.7% ABV

Nestled on the dessert menu (along with an Oregon berry crumble and Morgenthaler’s internet-famous chocolate chip cookies) is this sort-of sequel to Pépé le Moko’s ice cream grasshopper, inspired by the favorite vacation ritual of any visitor to California’s Coachella Valley. It’s decadent but not boozy, with the brandy and sherry—which are both derived from raisin grapes—adding additional layers of nutty, dried-fruit flavor.

DRINK: Pacific Standard, 100 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 971-346-2992, kexhotels.com/eat-drink/pacificstandard. 3 pm-midnight daily.