Finally some good news: Portland now has a piña colada bar. Tropicale, the walk-up cocktail bar with Caribbean and Latin American small plates, has opened in the Rose City’s Kerns neighborhood, bringing the popular cocktail (with and without booze) to a brick-and-mortar location after years as a roving pop-up cart.
A passion project for owner Alfredo Climaco — who has been behind the bar since he was 17 — Tropicale showcases the dynamic flavors of Latin American both on the food and drink menus. As far as the piña colada concept goes, it may be the first bar of its kind.
“In a city that doesn’t have a lot of diversity, I really felt the need to share the colors and flavors of my culture through something I grew up with, drinks and food,” Climaco says. “The piña colada is a traditional drink where I grew up, and I love how adaptable it is. At Tropicale, the piña coladas have a touch of a touch of the region where I live now, the Pacific Northwest. I also love that it can be made with or without alcohol.
While piña coladas do take centerstage, one of Climaco’s favorites to mix up is a spin on the classic Negroni. “We love to find ways to share our traditions,” he says. “With the Negrete, we start with a classic cocktail and add a contemporary Latin twist.
A simple recipe, Climaco’s twist requires a solid amount of chocolate bitters — 10 milliliters, roughly 1.5 teaspoons, to be exact. He says this ingredients helps the sweetness of the mezcal used to pop, and slightly reduces the spirit’s inherent smokiness.
Swing by the new location yourself to grab a Negrete, or follow Climaco’s directions to give it a go at home.
Makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces Mezcal Joven Union
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
10 milliliters (1.5 teaspoons) chocolate bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin with ice, strain and serve over fresh ice in a rocks glass.