A shot of whiskey in my coffee is a once-in-a-while thing on a camping trip for me. When I first heard about the new Foundry Four coffee bar and tasting room in Prineville, I imagined ordering some kind of boozy, caffeinated drink similar to my campfire mug of brew. Instead, I walked into a bright, airy industrial space with a modern, Old World vibe, and realized I could order my usual cappuccino, enjoy a mouthwatering cinnamon roll and relax on a comfy antique chair. Before I left my new favorite hangout with its high ceilings, wood and iron accents and well-placed collectibles, I also tasted a mighty fine flight of mini rye whiskey cocktails.
"We're the first and only coffee (...bar) and distillery tasting room in the state of Oregon, combining the two together," explains Foundry Four co-owner Bryan Iverson. While Iverson and his partner Scott Ramsay didn't really know what they were going to do with the dilapidated building they bought in 2016 on Fourth Street in Prineville, they were comfortable letting the process unfold. Ramsay explained that at one point they thought they might even have to tear the place down. "Once we knew the walls were gonna stand up and we could keep the roof, we thought, let's just get everything out of here and see what we had to work with. At that point, we thought it was just going to be storage. Then it started looking too good for storage and then we asked what's next? Let's figure it out."
Iverson and Ramsay feel good about saving a historic structure from the wrecking ball (the building dates back to 1929). They've maintained much of the original patina from nine decades of use; according to their research, it was once home to a butcher shop, automotive garage, newspaper, cafe and foundry. Once they determined it was worth saving, the partners wanted to pay homage to the industrial past of the building and the working men and women who had been a part of its history.A distillery was one of their early ideas, but they learned that distilling in their newly renovated space wasn't realistic. Instead they struck up a relationship with Stein Distillery in Joseph, Ore., a small batch distillery that uses locally grown grains. Anvil Rye, Batch #1 is Foundry's first small batch rye whiskey, specific to Iverson's and Ramsay's tastes, distilled exclusively for them by Stein. It's the base for their whiskey tasting flight which I had the pleasure of sampling.Iverson admits, "Rye whiskey can be daunting for some," but these fellas are on a mission to educate and the way they design their flights, even a non-whiskey drinker like myself was able to appreciate the deep, smooth flavor of the handcrafted spirit. While there was a whiskey "neat" shot in the flight, I really liked the mini cocktails which included a Prinehattan (think mini Manhattan).
The Foundry Four coffee bar opens early, serving gourmet Sisters Coffee Company coffee and espresso drinks. Prineville's nearby Granny Faye's Bakery provides fresh pastries, scones and breakfast pockets daily as well. Whiskey tastings start at noon Monday through Saturday. You can also purchase Batch #1 bottles right there in the tasting room while supplies last.Side note, the Foundry Four space itself, 1,650 square feet indoors and 2500 square feet outdoors, is available for rent for private functions. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming musical events. For me, I'm certainly adding this to my "Favorite Chill Spots in Central Oregon" list.
Donna Britt is the creator of the Food.Life podcast and host of Central Oregon Daily's 'Taste This' food series.