A Toast to Excellence

Dina Avila

Nominated by FSR readers, these beverage programs have more to them than the wine, beer, and spirits on the menu.

Editor’s choice for best cocktail bar experience in a one-year-old concept.

Portland, Oregon Duke Ellington, ’60s British rock, or something more contemporary? Kyle Linden Webster, owner and creator of Expatriate, makes those choices every night as he spontaneously selects LPs to queue on the turntable. Nights start softly, perhaps with the hint of jazz or an acoustical medley humming in the background, but as the energy changes, the musical ambiance shifts to match the mood of Expatriate guests.

The original idea for the bar, which celebrated its first anniversary in July, was to create a space “that transported people out of their usual mode of existence,” Webster says. “I thought it would be good for guests to be a little unsure of where they were, to feel pleasantly disoriented.”

The music, always from vinyl, never digital, helps set that stage, as does the name, Latin in origin and meaning out of one’s own country.

Webster, whose passions include bartending, literature, and music, spent time creating musical playlists for restaurants that would reflect the overall tone of the concepts. He also spent years working in the well at various bars, something he misses now that his primary function is to serve as decision-maker and chief hospitality director at Expatriate.

“I’m not in motion in the well as much as I’d like, and while I still have to be able to gather a fun crowd and create a drinking culture, I have to be in touch with my principles of hospitality in a different way,” Webster says. “That’s been a huge challenge and opportunity for developing skills to make the team work well and, to some degree, it’s been a process of letting go and trusting people.”

What he most hopes to accomplish with hospitality at Expatriate is for guests to leave “thinking of the overall experience. That has been my priority because I strongly believe the overall experience is what people value and return for,” Webster explains. “There is a necessary and ideal interconnection between all the things happening in the course of service at Expatriate, and I hope that is apparent.”


Add new comment