Starting today, you can now visit Aviation American Gin’s shiny, sprawling new production facility and tasting room—and thanks to co-owner and actor Ryan Reynolds, it’s a distillery experience unlike any other in the city.
The nearly 33,000-square-foot building on the fringes of industrial Northwest Portland has six cocktails on tap—including a Negroni, the drink that seduced the Deadpool star into acquiring a stake in the company—a gift shop with all manner of logo-emblazoned swag, beautiful copper stills, a bottling line…and an escape room. Yes, an escape room. And the chiseled, widely recognizable face of Aviation is the theme of the game.
Just to the left of the bar is a window looking into a handsomely furnished office, which is billed as Reynolds’ Portland headquarters. It becomes clear that he probably doesn’t really work in that space once you peer through the glass a bit longer. Hanging above the fireplace is a giant, old-timey portrait of the actor, complete with moving eyes and jaw, which is part of a series of puzzles and Easter eggs visitors must solve and identify in order to unlock the door.
“About three years ago, we set out to create a one-of-a-kind distillery and tasting experience to give people the opportunity to get a look at how we make the world’s greatest spirit,” Reynolds stated in a press release. “If a grown-up theme park and a bartender fell in love and produced offspring, it would be this gin factory.”
The escape room comes at the end of each distillery tour, which is limited to 12 visitors and costs $28 per person. The experience also includes a guided tasting.
For those who despise puzzles, or being locked in a small room with a bunch of people, you have the option of simply taking a seat at the bar to order cocktails, flights, or straight tastes of gin. The premixed drinks will rotate seasonally, and in the current lineup, two standouts included the simple and classic pre-Prohibition Fizzy Bees Knees as well as the Floradora, a bright raspberry-and-ginger beer combo.
Before Aviation shot to stardom, it started out as the flagship product of House Spirits, which moved from Corvallis to Southeast Portland’s distillery row in 2005. In 2016, co-owners Christian Krogstad, Thomas Mooney and Ryan Magarian sold the brand to Davos and used the money to expand their whiskey production. Just two years ago, Aviation was acquired by London-based Diageo, the world’s largest spirits maker.
However, it’s safe to say that Aviation will continue to be associated with its high-profile spokesman. While Reynolds wasn’t actually at the ribbon cutting and facility preview party on Sept. 22 (he was probably too busy managing the Welsh soccer team he just purchased with fellow actor Rob McElhenney), his likeness is everywhere. We assume the cardboard cutout of the actor overseeing the entrance will become a prime selfie spot in the months to come.
Aviation American Gin Distillery and Visitor Center is located at 2075 NW Wilson St., and open noon-7 pm Thursday through Sunday. You can book a tour on the company’s website.