I love cities that work hard to curate beautiful bars, creative menus, and have friendly bartenders. After a great visit to my hometown, Portland, ME, I thought of all the excellent bars in the other Portland that I had yet to visit. Since I had a work trip planned, I visited a few favorites, and several new spots. If you are in town, here are some cocktail bars not to miss in Portland, Oregon.
Located just down the street from the hotel I was staying at, Scotch Lodge is a bit of a hidden gem. Open since May 2019, this whiskey bar was just named the 2019 Best Bar by Portland Monthly magazine. In addition to an incredible cocktail menu, they also feature rare and hard to find scotches and whiskies, along with delicious food. I had already eaten, or I definitely would have dug into the menu. This would be the perfect place to take a romantic date for dinner.
The menu was far too good to limit myself to one drink, so I had two. Daffodil Lament on the left featured chamomile & crown daisy infused scotch, lemon, salted demerara, and egg white. It was delicious, slightly salty with light notes of tea coming through. The Queen of the Damned was made with bonded rye, cognac, lime, hibiscus, and amaro. See why I couldn’t choose just one?
Named after a song (and painting that hangs in the bar) by The National, Pink Rabbit is a lot of fun. Tyler, one of the co-owners, was welcoming and shared the history of the bar’s space and music themed background with me. The neon sign (above) caught my eye as I walked by, but the menu was what really wowed me.
Fit into a cassette tape case, the current menu celebrates songs from a 90’s mixtape. Drinks are themed to a song and each is explained humorously on a laminated card. Since I’d come pretty early, there weren’t any other bar patrons to chat with, so I entertained myself by reading about all the drinks. The bar had recently celebrated its first birthday.
I ordered the “Criminal” because, Fiona Apple, obviously. It was a blend of Silencio mezcal, El Tesoro tequila, grapefruit, house Cascade Hop tincture, Runcible crab-apple dry cider, and agave. It was light and refreshing. Other songs/drinks on the menu include “Zombie” by the Cranberries, “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve, and “High & Dry” by Radiohead.
Palomar is definitely one of my favorite bars to follow on Instagram. Since my first visit, I have followed this creative, Cuban bar from afar. When they launched their most recent menu, I was dying to visit, so I added it to my week’s agenda. Even better, I met up with some friends there for dinner.
It’s nice to get a non-selfie photo (thanks, Hannah)! I am enjoying the Sour which is a yummy combination of tequila, apricot, ginger, noyaux, lemon, and egg white. As you can see from the photo, I was tipping it slightly so you could see the swirl pattern on the top. I wasn’t as clever as I thought, since I managed to spill it right after this was taken. Oops!
You can’t go to a Cuban bar or restaurant without ordering a daiquiri. Well, I guess you can, but why would you? I had the Daiquiri No. 3 (which was described as a Hemingway daiquiri). It was the perfect blend of rum, lime, grapefruit, and a touch of maraschino. Yum!
At one point during my trip, I literally asked a bartender whether beautiful wallpaper was a rule for bars in Portland. She just answered that they cared about design. Abigail Hall, located inside the Woodlark hotel, was certainly no exception to this. My only complaint is that they keep the bar partially obscured by a curtain, so it was too hard to get a good photo of it. However, the rest of the room was plenty to enjoy. Also, if you visit their website, try not to get mesmerized by the ever-filling glass of champagne.
I enjoyed The Floating World with a colleague after work. The cocktail is a blend of Ketel One Botanical Cucumber & Mint, Kronan Swedish Punsch, orange, lime, Rose City Genmaicha tea, and egg white. It’s a busy bar, so you can easily sneak in and out for happy hour or a nightcap.
While West was a little out of my way, it was definitely worth a visit. The design and feel of the bar and restaurant alone, were a calming end to my workday. It was quiet and peaceful with soft lighting – so soft in fact that when I walked in, I asked to make sure they were open.
I loved all the plants hanging above the bar. And for the millionth time (when seeing a beautiful interior) thought, “why can’t I make my house look this good?”
I know my loyal readers were worried that I hadn’t had any gin cocktails yet, so breathe easy. The David Douglas features olive oil infused Tanqueray gin, douglas fir brandy, and tonic. A light and crisp beverage to carry you along to the next errand or item on your list.
And there you have it – the cocktail bars you need to check out in Portland, Oregon right now. There are two hundred or so other bars to try, but this will get you started. Cheers!