Portland's premier mixologist shakes things up

Sunset  –  June 6, 2005

A smooth, sweet avocado daiquiri, a chocolate martini, and achampagne cocktail with white peach purée: Just one look atthe menu, and it’s clear that Portland’s Elephants Delicatessen isnot your normal bar.

But what really distinguishes thesecocktails-among-the-cold-cuts is that they’re all created by LucyBrennan. She’s the English-born drinks diva whose delish menu of 40original cocktails packs ’em in at her highly regarded Mintrestaurant and its adjoining 820 Lounge. Her eagerly anticipatedcocktail recipe book, published by Chronicle Books, will be out inspring 2006. And now she’s offering classes to teach the rest of ushow to mix a great drink.

“I never thought, Oh, I want to be a bartender,” says Brennanabout her rise to the pinnacle of Portland’s mixologists. “I fellinto it.”

She started out as a room-service waitress at San Francisco’sPark Hyatt Hotel and eventually became the hotel’s beveragemanager. When she moved to Portland 11 years ago, she decided totry her hand at bartending. At Saucebox Café & Bar shebecame renowned for her innovative use of fruit purées andherbs. “I definitely bridge the kitchen and the bar.”

Anyone can succeed as a bartender by mastering just four basicdrinks, she says: the margarita, the sidecar, the cosmopolitan, andthe lemon drop. To make any other kind of cocktail, “you justchange the components.” ―S.H.

INFO: Cocktail classes at 820 Lounge the last Sun of eachmonth ($50; 820 N. Russell St., Portland; 503/284-5518); ElephantsDelicatessen (115 N.W. 22nd Ave.; 503/224-3955).

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