Snow Peak's restaurant Takibi is fortunate to have one of the industry's most legendary mixologists overseeing the development of the bar program. Jim Meehan is a master of his craft and has dedicated most of his career to creating memorable beverages for imbibers around the world.
Meehan, the author of The PDT Cocktail Book and Meehan's Bartender Manual, worked at some of New York City's most revered restaurants and bars, including Gramercy Tavern and the Pegu Club before opening the James Beard Award-winning bar PDT in 2007 and the second branch in Hong Kong a decade later. In 2014, Meehan and his family moved to Portland, Oregon, where he leads the Takibi Beverage Program and continues to write and develop cocktail menus for the American Express Centurion lounges worldwide. Read on to learn more about Jim and the inspiration behind Takibi's beverage program.
Can you share a bit about how you became part of the Takibi project?
My family landed in an apartment in the Pearl when we moved to Portland six and a half years ago and spent a lot of time in this neighborhood (NW 23rd Street), thanks to its proximity.
My family moved to Portland for the lifestyle, and Snow Peak- a regular stop during weekly dog walks when I lived in the Pearl- is the ideal outdoor lifestyle brand for me, as their whole focus is on getting people outside. As an enthusiastic outdoorsman (more of a glamper than a camper), I've always thought about how I could bring my culture (drinks) to the campsite, and Takibi was my big shot.
I first heard about the project from Joshua McFadden, the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Submarine Hospitality, Snow Peak's operational partner for Takibi. He told me about the Takibi over lunch, and after I expressed enthusiastic interest, we talked about how I might fit into Submarine Hospitality. After further discussion with the Submarine and Snow Peak teams, I came onboard to oversee the development of the beverage program.
Can you share the inspiration behind the Takibi beverage program?
I've been to Japan seven times and am in awe of the people, country, and culture. With that said, I'm not Japanese; so I've been thoughtful about the use of Japanese ingredients and customs in the Takibi beverage program. Personally, I think the most Japanese approach is serving hyper-seasonal local food and beverages that are as reverent of the Pacific Northwest as the Japanese are with their cuisine. With that said, guests should plan on seeing Japanese ingredients, tools, machinery, and Snow Peak service ware we can't make or grow ourselves intertwined with local ingredients, equipment, and customs.
How do the beverage offerings mirror Takibi's hyper-seasonal, local approach?
The Takibi beverage menu is natural and ingredient-driven. We think less is more. Guests should be able to taste all the ingredients in each drink. While ice, garnish, and glassware are important, the liquid is going to be the most important element. Just as Takibi's dishes are Japanese-inspired and locally sourced, the beverage program channels Japanese national pride with our PNW regional affection. The bar menu features many local purveyors and is supplemented with singular Japanese ingredients.
How did your book Meehan's Bartender Manual inform or influence the development of the Takibi beverage program?
The book has been a huge asset for me at Takibi. In our first interview, Takibi Bar Manager Lydia McLuen told me she'd read it multiple times years before our meeting, which was both flattering and helpful to align on principles quickly to build our program together. So much of developing chemistry among coworkers relies on discovering what matters to each other and how things are expected to be done; I've got much of that on paper for my colleagues to soak up if they wish to. There are many ways to run a bar, and the book explains mine in detail; with explanations and insights upon their origin from other experts. After taking the time to get it all on paper, I use the book to hold myself accountable. Takibi is the first bar I've opened since the book was published, so the restaurant also presents an opportunity to field test my ideas and continue to learn and grow as an operator. Snow Peak carries copies for sale that I'm happy to sign and personalize for guests and store visitors whenever I'm present.
Experience the Takibi beverage program for yourself! Make a reservation at takibipdx.com or stop by for a walk-in table! Alternatively, try your hand at recreating one of the favorites from the Takibi Bar Menu. The Yuzu Shandy is a refreshing combination of the Ferment Brewing Takibi Pilsner and Yuzu Sparkling Juice.
- 3 oz. Ferment Takibi Pilsner
- 3 oz. Kimono Yuzu Sparkling Juice
Measure the beer and soda into a frosty beer mug half-rimmed with a 3/1 mixture of sea salt to shichimi gokujyou. Fill the mug with ice cubes. Serve with no garnish. Kanpai!