Bar Manager, Imperial and Portland Penny Diner
Brandon Wise, Eater PDX’s 2010 Bartender of the Year, is the head Bar Manager for Chef Vitaly Paley’s new restaurants, Imperial and Portland Penny Diner. Wise will oversee the bar and the cocktail menu at both Paley ventures and is excited to pair his drinks with Paley’s exquisite cuisine. Wise is a seasoned mixologist and restaurant man, whose previous stints include serving as the General Manager for Beaker and Flask and as Bar Manager at Irving Street Kitchen. He describes his bartending style as classically influenced with a focus on fresh market ingredients and seasonality. Wise is thrilled to once again team with Ben Bettinger and work with Chef Paley, and knows his cocktails matched with Paley’s food will push the culinary envelope. Wise will further his desire to make drinking fun by including twists on classics, or odes to bartending legends like Ada Coleman; two cocktails inspired by these ideas will be barreled and served on draft at Imperial. The quality of the ingredients are most important to a memorable cocktail, and Wise will use those ingredients for the barrel cocktails, and others that will highlight Paley’s award-winning cooking, like a drink made with Paley’s refreshing radish sorbet, inspired by team Paley’s win on Food Network’s Iron Chef America.
The fine dining quality of Imperial and more casual vibe at Portland Penny Diner mean Wise can experiment with a variety of cocktails. Wise will use culinary techniques in both cocktails and the ice program, including incorporating the blast chiller to get super clear, dense cold cubes of varying sizes to suit particular drinks in a matter of minutes, like ‘New Money’, a nod to a Chicago classic. The cocktail is made with single barrel bourbon, Nardidi amaro, hickory vermouth and bitters all over a single, large clear ice cube. At Portland Penny, Wise will draw on ‘Americana’, drawing from soda fountain favorites like egg creams and other ingredients that resonate with imbibers.
Wise grew up in Rochester Hills, Michigan and attended college at Central Michigan University. His fine dining background landed him in Chicago, where he helped earn In Fine Spirits the Chicago Reader’s Best Wine Bar of 2008 award and ran the bar at the acclaimed Boka restaurant group’s Perennial. Wise got into cocktails when hired to open and manage what was intended to be a neighborhood wine bar on the north side of Chicago that only served classic cocktails. In the first week the restaurant was open, Wise realized he was part of a cocktail bar. He never looked back.
Wise is the president of the Oregon Bartender’s Guild, has written extensively at The Daily Blender, and is a primary organizer of Portland Cocktail Week. For more information please visit his website, or follow him on Twitter.