RYAN MAGARIAN IS bringing fruity back. Years before bartenders were called “mixologists” (a.k.a. the 1990s) and whiskey was a local obsession on par with pork belly, locals lined up for playful, fruit-forward cocktails at places like Oba in the Pearl District, one of Magarian’s early shaking grounds. In his hands, fruit is an essential element of the art, and balance is the key—that’s the message the Aviation Gin cofounder has spread as an international bar consultant, advising award-winning watering holes as far-flung as Singapore, Hollywood, and Dallas. Now, the Oregon native has finally built the bar of his own dreams at Oven and Shaker. A partnership with Nostrana chef Cathy Whims and indie restaurateur Kurt Huffman, Oven and Shaker represents the latest in Portland’s wave of supergroup restaurant collaborations: three established talents coming together to create a rollicking pizza-and-cocktail Shangri-la.
Behind what he describes as the “F-16 of bars,” Magarian crafts approachable but surgically precise cocktails in four categories: fresh (fruit-forward and subtly sweet), dry (like fresh, but with less sugar and more length of spirit), strong (aromatic and booze-focused), and free (alcohol-free, that is, but dry and food-friendly). The Corleone falls under the fresh category—earthy green grapes take the spotlight, mingling with crisp Aviation gin, bracing grappa, a touch of citrus, and the final accent of bitters for a perfectly balanced drink. Just like the rest of the cocktails in Magarian’s Oven and Shaker repertoire, the recipe is printed on the menu and designed to be replicated at home. That may be surprising in this era of smoked ice and house-made bitters—but then again, so is the return of fruity cocktails.