Portland is an amazing cocktail town. We were, and many say still are, on the forefront of the cocktail revolution, with some of the finest bartenders anywhere claiming residence in our city. So if you want a break from hops, what is the best cocktail bar in Portland?
The list contains most of the standards you’d expect, but this year I’m glad to see we have some well deserved additions.
1,170 votes were cast
1. Teardrop Lounge – 13% of the total vote. My review
- Hours: daily 4pm – close
- Happy Hour: Mon – Fri 4pm – 7pm.
- Details: Teardrop was the first craft focused cocktail bar in Portland. These guys are obsessive, making their own syrups, bitters, shrubs and using fresh ingredients wherever possible. They have been written up in so many magazines they’ve made a national name for themselves. Go here if you want a perfectly made cocktail with the finest ingredients.
- Address: 1015 NW Everett St., Portland, OR 97209. Map (503) 445-8019
2. Clyde Common – 12% – review
- Hours: Mon – Fri 11:30am – 11:45pm, Sat 10am – 12:45am, Sun 10am – 10:45pm
- Happy Hour: Daily 3pm – 6pm.
- Details: Jeffrey Morganthaler took over the bar at Clyde common and turned it into one of the most popular in Portland. He is the author of the well received The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique. Go here for perfectly made classic cocktails, especially those based on whiskeys and bourbon – they have a great selection.
- Address: 1014 Southwest Stark Street Portland, OR 97205 Map (503) 228-3333
3. Expatriate – 11%
- Hours: Daily 5pm – 12am
- Details: Bartender Kyle Linden Webster has quickly gained a reputation for well thought out, balanced cocktails. The scene is Portland cool, dark and cozy candlelight with the bartender switching from pouring drinks to playing DJ, spinning records to set the vibe. It’s all very… sexy. Grab the booth in the back corner and soak it in; it’s easy to while away time here. For the most interesting experience, pick a cocktail from the nightly selections and take in the scene. The food menu is interesting, designed by Kyle’s James Beard award winning wife Naomi Pomeroy; as I recall (after a few drinks memories are a bit hazy), she told me they were inspired by a trip to Burma. They are easily the most creative drinking foods in town. Everyone should give this place at least one try.
- Address: 5424 NE 30th Ave., Portland OR 97211 Map
4. Multnomah Whiskey Library – 9%
- Hours: Mon – Thurs 4pm – 12am, Fri – Sat 4pm – 1am
- Details: The name says it all, “an exhaustive collection representing all major and lesser styles of distilled spirits”. If you are into whiskey or Scotch, this must be on your list. There is lots of money behind this bar, and it shows; the interior is beautiful, clubby old-school. Beware: there is a long wait much of the time. Members get priority and pass everyone waiting in line – but member ship is expensive, starting at $600 per person. You can buy a “Hall Pass” for $25 a person which also gives you priority over the lines, but there are restrictions so check the website for details. Yes, can be a hassle, but everyone should go there once, and whiskey lovers will want to return.
- Address: 1124 SW Alder St, Portland, OR 97205 Map (503) 954-1381
5. Rum Club – 8%
- Hours: daily from 4pm
- Happy Hour: 4pm – 6pm
- Details: Obviously rum is the focus, with a whole list of drinks featuring the spirit, including a terrific daiquiri. If you aren’t very familiar with high quality rums, try the three pour tasting flight. Not an aficionado? Don’t despair, a long list of other spirits are also available. It’s a small place, and the crowd can be a bit exuberant at times, but it’s popular for good reason.
- Address: 720 SE Sandy Blvd., Portland, OR 97214 Map
6. The Rookery at Raven & Rose – 5%
- Hours: varies by season – see website. Bar is closed Monday
- Happy Hour: Mon- Fri 4pm – 6pm
- Details: The Rookery is on the second-floor of the historic Ladd Carriage House. The vaulted space is a relaxed classic bar, furnished with leather sofas, armchairs and cocktail tables that is at once intimate and grand, with soaring open trusses and a fireplace. Bar director David Shenaut specializes in classic cocktails from the 1880’s history of the building. I like this place; the space is nice and the drinks are great. The bar food is very English: Ploughman’s plate, Fish & Chips, Corned-Beef-Stuffed Yorkshire, Welsh Rarebit and more.
- Address: 1331 Southwest Broadway, Portland OR 97201 Map (503) 222-7673
7. Angel Face – 4.52%
- Hours: Sun – Thurs 5pm – midnight, Fri – Sat 4pm – 1am
- Happy Hour: 3pm – 6pm
- Details: Angel Face opened a bit off the radar, but has quickly gained a following. It’s owned by the people behind Navarre next door. The atmosphere is laid back; and yup, that wallpaper is hand-painted. There is no house cocktail menu, so if you aren’t familiar with standard cocktails, you may be a little lost. However, if the bar isn’t too busy, the bartenders seem to enjoy working with you to make something you’ll like. The food is a deal: I always order the Steak Tartare with raw quail egg and traditional accompaniments, Steak Frites, and the Meat Board before waddling out the door.
- Address: 14 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97232 Map (503) 239-3804
8. Hale Pele – 4.51%
- Hours: Open daily from 4pm to midnight
- Happy Hour: daily until 6pm
- Details: If you haven’t been to Hale Pele, you should give it a try. Hang out, learn about Tiki drinks, and have a good time. Owner Blair Reynolds makes the syrups from scratch (you can also buy them at Whole Foods, New Seasons). I’m partial to the Navy Grog – blend of aged rums and citrus lightly sweetened with honey. Another favorite with a great name: the Missionary’s Downfall which is a 1937 ode to Don the Beachcomber – mint, peach, pineapple and light rum. If it has been one of those days, consider the Painkiller – don’t ask, let’s just say it will fix everything. Decor is pure Tiki kitsch, with genuine puffer fish lamps, carved wooden Tiki gods and more. Blair also has a nice selection of good sipping rums. He opened my eyes to a whole new world.
- Address: 2733 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232 Map
9. KASK (at Grüner) – 4.27%
- Hours: Monday – Saturday 5pm – 11pm
- Happy Hour: Mon – Fri 4:30pm – 6pm
- Details: KASK is the sister to chef Christopher Israel’s Grüner restaurant. The drink selections are simple: less than ten cocktails make the list, but they are interesting and well made. When it is on rotation, I like the Moscow Mule with Medoyeff vodka, lime, ginger syrup and ginger beer. Clean and simple, so refreshing after a day in the sun. The food is pretty limited: cured meats, cheeses, pretzels, fried smashed potatoes (great with a cocktail), Caesar salad, spicy meatballs, etc.
- Address: 1215 Southwest Alder Street Portland, OR 97205 Map (503) 241-7163
10. Pépé le Moko – 4%
- Hours: open daily from 4pm – 2am
- Details: Jeffrey Morganthaler, bar manager of #2 winner Clyde Common has always been serious about the craft of cocktails, but never at the expense of having fun. In 2014 Pepe Le Moko opened in the basement, allowing him to focus on craft in a smaller size and scale. He decided to apply his skills to the spurned and once ubiquitous cocktails of baby boom hotel bars. The result is fresh and light-hearted drinks such as the Blended Grasshopper of Umpqua vanilla ice cream, crème de menthe & cacao, Fernet Branca, Jacobsen Sea Salt, a Blue Hawaii with vodka, light rum, pineapple, lemon and blue curacao, and, a Long Island Ice Tea which is actually good. The bar takes some of the posturing out of the craft cocktail scene, yet carries the trend of house made syrups and esoteric components that are found on most modern cocktail lists forward. Food consists of oysters, charcuterie, boccadillos — the kinds of things that can be made well in a small space, and help the drinks go down.
- Address: 407 10th Ave., Portland OR. 97205 Map (503) 546-8537
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