- Downtowners can now stop into Crater Lake Spirits for a mini-cocktail and purchase a bottle to take home. Photos by James Padilla (left) and Zachary Bascom (right).
You're leaving work downtown and the mood to whip up a locally-made martini strikes you on the way home. While you could head over to one of the liquor stores that hover in the nether regions of Bend (read: away from downtown), nowadays, you don't necessarily have to.
Another option now available to you: pop in for a mini cocktail in a swank new space featuring clean lines and elegant tile along Bond Street, and grab a bottle on your way out. That's just the type of experience that the owners of the Crater Lake Spirits Downtown Tasting Room want you to have in their new space, which opened in late February.
Don't call it a bar. It's a tasting room, intended for travelers and locals alike to pop in and pop out. The tasting room's somewhat unique OLCC license doesn't require the space to serve food, the cocktails are mini-sized, and each person is limited to a total of 2.5 ounces of alcohol per visit. Nestled between the Deschutes Brewery Public House and Café Sintra in downtown Bend, it's an inviting spot for all that popping.
"There's so many places nearby that have extensive wait times because they're delicious and very popular, that we can be a spot to wait, almost," says tasting room manager Kristen Buwalda. "And there are so many people that work downtown or pass through downtown, it's an easy place to pick up a bottle," Buwalda says.
"We really want to be a one stop shop to grab a cocktail, grab a bottle and grab your mixers and go home and have an excellent night all by yourself... or with friends."
Still, those mini cocktails they serve onsite are mighty delicious. On a recent visit, we bellied up to a bar lined with a number of cocktails (one at a time, per person, of course), including a Back Alley Martini served with Hatch Green Chile Vodka, lime juice and vanilla syrup, the Oregon Bulldog with Hazelnut Espresso Vodka, half & half and Coca Cola... and to temper the sweet stuff, a Ruby D Specialty Tonic with Crater Lake Gin. In addition to its own products, Crater Lake Spirits also proffers local products including Ruby D's Tonics out of Eugene, Portland Bloody Mary mix, and others.
Those grabbing a bottle to go can whip up something tasty at home fairly easily too. Buwalda recommends this combo: "Ice cream with hazelnut espresso is where it's at."
The tasting room is the company's second tasting room—and the second time it's had a presence in downtown Bend. An earlier tasting room, now closed, was located on Brooks Street. Like that location, the new downtown tasting room aims to serve the people who might not make it out to its Tumalo location.
"Tourists don't always know about Tumalo, and it's a bit of a drive, and most tourists walk around downtown with all of the festivals in the summer and winter, and so it's a really easy way to educate people who are not necessarily from Bend about our products," says Buwalda.
With its fresh, modern-yet-traditional look, the new space is definitely a departure from the other places you might find yourself picking up a bottle. It's arguably the cheapest place to find a bottle of Crater Lake Spirits in the city, to boot.
I mean, who doesn't want to get swanky while they stock the liquor cabinet for the weekend?
Crater Lake Spirits Downtown Tasting Room
1024 NW Bond St., Suite 102, Bend
Open daily at 11am