At this bar, you buy low, get high

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

PORTLAND Remember Nov. 20? Sure you do. That was the day the Dow stopped simply practicing for the Winter Olympics and became a gold medalist in downhill catastrophe, dropping 445 points to a mind-boggling 7,550.

Be honest. Did you drink? A lot? If not, maybe you should have. West Cafe in Southwest Portland had been matching the Dow, day by day, with corresponding drink specials. On the 20th, house martinis were going for $4.45 — or as the bar put on its daily blog, “Might as well drown your sorrows in the cheap stuff!”

The 2-year-old West Cafe looks more “Mad Men” than day-trader watering hole. But from the end of October through November, co-owner Sean Concannon scrambled to transform Wall Street’s daily ticker into a specials menu. On Nov. 6, the Dow was down 443 so $4.43 got patrons a glass of “hallucination inducing” Lucid Absinthe; on Nov. 21, the Dow was up 494 so a draft beer and two sandwiches went for $4.94.

With tongue firmly in cheek, Concannon describes the drink deals as part of the restaurant’s economic stimulus plan for Portland. So far it appears Portlanders like being stimulated with booze. Despite the economy, business was strong for West Cafe during late fall and early winter; traffic to the cafe’s blog (which announced each day’s deal) quadrupled over the same period of time.

Cafe West’s Dow-based drink deals have gone the way of the adjustable-rate mortgage (Concannon said it was exhausting trying to keep up every day). In their place are deals based on a regularly updated list of bail-out beneficiaries. For instance, the Fannie Mae is a bourbon blood orange Old Fashioned that “might hurt you more than it hurts them, but you won’t feel it until later.”

Or if you’re looking for your own personal bailout, whispering, “I’ll do my part to make a difference,” to your waiter will earn you a free gourmet chocolate chip cookie.           

ABRAHAM HYATT
ImbibeIndex

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