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location:oceanside

anchor

Recently, a friend put a challenge to me: can you get a decent glass of wine in an Oregon Coast drinking hole? My initial gut response was--who cares? Then I thought--how dare you even ask such a loaded question. At roughly 45-46 degrees N latitude and 125 degrees W longitude is the drunk discovered country of American vodka and cheap lagers pouring forth in annual amounts roughly equal to the triple digit rainfall accumulating where heavy North Pacific Ocean air collides with the Coast Range. Spill the good wine? Absurd. Besides, the very thought of me asking for a glass of wine in the Let it Pour kingdom is like asking a teenage boy to stop masturbating or Henry Kissinger to find his soul. But as I entered Oceanside's The Anchor Tavern not too long ago, I considered her question. There, behind the bar, rested a box of Franzia and two taps for Inglenook. I'm sure this horrifies Bacchus and isn't what God had in mind when he imbued Jesus with the power to turn water into wine, but I had to smile when I saw the Anchor's commitment to the fermented product of inferior grapes. The answer my chiseled, gorgeous friend, is "no!" You cannot get a decent glass of wine on the North Oregon Coast. The Anchor understands this. They don't even try. And thank Christ. If you want quality vintage, head to the preen streets of boutique Portland and partake in something called a "flight." If you want a "flight" at the Anchor, drink beer until levitation begins. On the cliff in Oceanside, the Anchor is an establishment that ranks at the very top of my list of classic coast taverns. It has a pony-tailed proprietor, a million dollar view not owned by the developer class, kick-ass food, Chimay in bottle, serves their noble rot in carafes, sets out the best place mat in the Pacific Northwest, and often hosts gatherings of the area's well-adjusted and highly neurotic artists. The Anchor, operating since 1940, features a comforting light wood interior and big windows staring out to Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge where shorebirds pretty much do what I do in drinking holes (minus the alcohol intake)--hang out. Tom Beall runs the Anchor and likes to smoke--meat that is. In fact, he has a five grand digital smoker out back and cranks out so much tasty animal flesh that had he been around with his machine in the Napoleonic era, he would have kept the general's army properly fed during the conquest of Russia. But Napoleon's men starved and today Western Civilization is more about Budweiser and Coke than fine Burgundy. For the addicts, the Anchor has video poker exiled off to the side. A cool tide clock can also entertain you. The service is excellent and articulate. (No double negatives spoken.) Another curiosity is the front door which blows open exactly when gusts hit 80 mph. Tom locks it up at the point and that is my idea of correctly fighting the War on Terror. In the Anchor there are the smoked delights, wonderfully exotic Chimay, friendly Major Tom, live music, the view, the leviathans migrating past, a good writer's karma, and a chance to meet Tom Selleck who is rumored to have a home in the area. That's all great, but what I dig the most about the Anchor is the place mats. Yes the place mats! They are covered with all manner of whale watching information and I always learn something new when I read one. My favorite section is the "Spout Comparison Chart" which diagrams the different discharges and informs the reader how to identify a particular whale from the spouts as they appear from shore. Or in this case, from the Anchor Tavern. What a drinking game this could make! A Blue sighting--women drink. A Humpback--men pound. A Sperm? The single oversexed person buys a round for the married folks. Now try that with wine.


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