Weather you’ve been exploring Portland all day, working hard for ‘THE MAN’, or hell, even cooped up in your home office working on your blog (who ME?), it sure is nice to go down to one of the local cocktail bars and let out some steam. Innit?
Portland is a city bursting with culinary (nay, gastonomical!) experiences, and it’s mixology scene is no different. I’ve compiled my “Best Of” list of cocktail bars sure to loosen up even the stiffest of patrons. I have tried my best to give you a broad range of establishments which sooth the taste buds, loosen the tongue, and have atmosphere up the yin-yang.
There’s a reason why this cocktail bar is on every best bar in Portland list. Even I, with my incessant need to be different, threw up my hands and resigned myself to the fact that this COULD NOT escape my list. They have a clean, concise menu with a mix of the classics and their signature drinks ‘mixed’ in. Ha! See what I did there? Happy hour 4 to 7pm weekdays.
They have a limited selection of signature cocktails, rum and otherwise (but holy bejezzus, are they gooood), a unique bar food menu, and happy hour is 4 to 6pm every day. They also serve a fine selection of beer and wine. Try the ‘Serenity Now!’ cocktail.
I just love the bar area here: they use minimalistic décor, with box shelves touting their alcoholic wares, and a black and white tiled ‘spout factory’. Don’t ask me to explain….just go there! The seating area is pleasant with clean, plank-wood benches and tables. Happy Hour is 3 – 6pm every day.
Ooga Chaka! Oregon’s finest tiki bar. The décor has Got. It. All. From the bamboo walls to the Paleo-God wooden trophies to the puffer fish lamps. Trader Sam’s at Disneyland, eat your pineapple heart out. Of course they have a rum list, duh! Happy Hour 4 to 6pm daily. Do NOT leave without (sharing) the Zombie punch. Yeah, it’s that strong.
This is where I come for my (ahem) weekly coffee nudge. Mind you, this is a hotel with five bars! What? Go to the Dentention Room! Yeah, that’s also one of the bars. Sorry, teacher. Oh, and Kennedy School also has a brewery, a couple of restaurants and a theater. But I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah, my favorite bar here is the Boiler Room Bar. A nice little basement-like enclave where you can order a full meal with your chosen libation, then play pool over in the next room.
These guys specialize in….you guessed it…martinis. Classic, lemon drops, cosmos, herbaceous, fresh & fruity….the list go on! They have a full menu, even small plates! And don’t get me started on the Tastini Trio: a full meal deal It’s a hand-selected monthly pairing of 3 martinis and a 3-course small plates for $30. Not bad! Happy hour starts at 4pm. Going next door? I’ve got two words for you: Urban Fondue. Sip, dip and dive. Okay, that’s five words. Beer and wine also available.
This is a cozy, neighborhood bar with a ‘Cheers’ type of feel. They serve their coctails in antique crystal glassware, which begs the question, how many of them do they have, for surely they must get a breakage one in a while. Like, every night! Well, they say that the party doesn’t start until something breaks, so there ya go. They have a limited food menu, mostly fancy snacks to go with your drink. Beer and wine is also available.
With a limited, but classy menu, Circa 33 offers killer coctails, beer and wine. I recommend The Huntress or the Moscow Mule (yeah, I’m a vodka girl.) They have a generous happy hour: Mondays, all night.
Their claim to fame is in-house, infused martinis. Whether you like ‘em classic or modern, they offer over 99 martinis and cocktails. Their limited menu consists of the classic playas of large and small plates. But oh, the Sunday brunch! I can’t think of anything finer than a hand-crafted cocktail with the Vault Breakfast Sammie. They also have a generous happy hour every day before 7pm, if you like your cocktails early in the day! And ALL DAY Sunday and Monday. Whoa.
Probably the bar with the most speakeasy-like feel on this list. And they have absinthe! With a recording studio next door, this cocktail bar does business with small-batch distilleries. Happy hour, Sun-Thurs, 5 – 7pm and 10pm to close. A classy bar mbar menu. Yeah, this joint oozes class.
BONUS (honorable mention): There are other places I’ve been which I highly recommend, but for one reason or another didn’t make my ‘Top 10’. Trust me, it was pretty difficult to choose which wonderful Portland bar made the cut!