It’s been a decade since Kevin Taylor’s
interest in historical, prohibition-era cocktails led to the creation of
Birch Street Uptown Lounge, a gathering place and watering hole unlike any other in downtown Camas.
Seeking a home for his cocktail obsession, Kevin ventured into the bar scene in Camas with a speakeasy vibe in his initial bar opening 10 years ago on Birch Street. He called upon his fine dining server experience from his youth and was looking for something completely different than his days as a fire department battalion chief.
Opening Birch Street Uptown Lounge in 2010, he began with Old Fashions and Manhattans and all the cocktails in between, filling the tables and bar at their home in a downtown building, built in 1928. Just a few years ago, Birch Street expanded into the next door location and doubled in size, filling the bar with more employees and patrons seven days a week, and full to the brim prior to Covid.
Kevin said there were a few months at the beginning of the pandemic when they had to shift gears, sell some of their high-end spirits by the bottle to the public, and the doors were shuttered as many locked down in their homes. But as that lockdown has relaxed, he said patrons are eager for cocktails, and that if nothing, the lockdown seemed to bring out a renewed interest in prohibition cocktails and spirits.
“Our vision was to create a space that you might find in the entertainment districts of Portland, Seattle or New York City. Something that you can’t usually find in the suburbs,” Kevin said. “We offer classic cocktails, draft beer, wine and a little food in a beautiful setting with a vintage vibe in a building that dates to 1928. You can enjoy an artisan meat and cheese plate, pulled pork sliders, or gourmet mac and cheese among other food selections.”
The lounge has been home to live jazz standard music and singers for many years. Prior to the shutdown, they were entertaining with live music three days per week (Thursday-Friday-Saturday) but, live music has been suspended since March and won’t be back until the all-clear is given from state and local agencies. “We miss our entertainers, but we’ll be back at it on the other side,” Kevin said.
Kevin has praised the downtown Camas community, and the fact that Birch Street is not alone in serving the area fine spirits. He said it is a boon to Camas that he is surrounded by boutique stores, a wine bar, several brew pubs, and great dining venues, as well as the Liberty Theatre.
When a visitor comes into Birch Street, they find a “bartending team” looking to provide everyone with a unique, memorable experience … from the drink recipes, the ambience, and even the attire. They squeeze all their juice fresh. Kevin joked that there is no “well booze,” no lottery, and no flavored vodkas. They use original vintage recipes and ingredients for their cocktails.
Kevin likes to say, “We sell an experience, not just cocktails.”
Birch Street Uptown Lounge is located at 311 NE Birch St. Join them for an authentic classic cocktail experience in the heart of Camas.