Adventures of the Bourbon Virgin at The Pope House

This story starts with a man who lived in Bourbon, Kentucky in the 18th century. He loved whisky and began distilling his own version using the ingredients and tools he had to work with (Walmart hadn’t hit the South yet). Fast forward a few decades. The story ends with a new type of whisky that can only be called “Bourbon” if it is actually from Kentucky. Kind of like how you can only call sparkling wine “champagne” if it’s from the Champagne region in France.
The moral of this history lesson is that I’m a bad little American, because I had never tried bourbon – or whisky of any kind. Needless to say, I was excited when one of my neighbors organized drinks for some building mates at The Pope House Bourbon Lounge.


The Pope House sits in one of those amazing old Victorian houses in NW Portland. The spot was formerly the home of the Brazen Bean, which essentially shut down in 2009 once the Oregon smoking ban took effect. The Pope House – a smoke free but bourbon-filled abode – took it’s place.
The day we all met up was one of the last warm, sunny Fall evenings and we scored a table on the restaurant’s wraparound porch. In addition to porch seating, there were tables set up in front of the restaurant where the front yard would be. Although summer only lasts for two months in Oregon, I’m always taking inventory of places with outside seating… Pope House, check.
We arrived at 6:30 pm which is way past happy hour for most local restaurants. Imagine my surprise to learn that happy hour at The Pope House lasts until 7pm…. another mental note, check. And the happy hour menu is really fun to look through. Lots of great drink options from $3-$5 and some unusual food choices ranging from $3-$6 including Deviled Eggs, Tea Sandwiches, and Frito Pie. Our waitress’s recommendations were the Pulled Pork Quesadilla and the Country Fritters (both $5), but I had my eye on the Vegetable Panini ($5). Sam ordered the Hot Brown Panini ($6).
{Hot Brown Panini}
{Vegetable Panini}
To drink, I ordered the High Tea ($5) which is essentially spiked, sweetened ice tea. It was delicious. Oh, and SUPER STRONG. Sam ordered the Signature Sour ($5) which he swore was the best he’s tasted. The food wasn’t out-of-this-world but good enough, and definitely worth the price. Soaking up strong drinks so you don’t make a fool of yourself in front of your neighbors = always good…check.
{Signature Sour}
{High Tea}

After inspecting the bathroom (which I always do. Who wants to eat from a place where the bathroom is nasty? Eww.), I discovered that the inside seating area is great too. Tables are set alongside what once was the living room of the house, so there’s lots of window seating – which in Portland is great for light and people watching. There are also several large flat screens hanging for game days. And the bar, wow. Whisky for days.

{Wall O’ Whisky… ahem, I mean Bourbon}
In an area with tons of what Sam calls “hoity toity” restaurants, The Pope House was a really great discovery in NW Portland. All in all, it was a great evening: I had the perfect drink to sip while sitting on a sunny porch with good company. Plus, it was moderately priced, had friendly staff and a clean toilet. I’m definitely coming back.
{NOTE: I realized while drafting this post that the High Tea isn’t even made with bourbon; it’s made with vodka. So it looks like the adventures of the bourbon virgin are To Be Continued…}

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