Portland is a beer city and most of the bars serve up fresh, tasty micro brews on tap. Fortunately for non-beer drinkers there are plenty of other options too. Check out the best of what the city has to offer thirsty visitors:
Enso Urban Winery
Micro wineries are trending and trust us, it is a very good thing. Enso is one of the best with a selection of local vines and their own production in the back room. It’s a comfortable, friendly place that invites the casual wino to sample the vintages without feeling like a traitor to the beer bars.
A banh mi restaurant with Asian bites and zippy cocktails, the Dragon is popular with the 30-something set who enjoy novelty drinks. The cocktails might have an infusion of Thai tea or unexpected dash of spice. To make a fun evening of it, come for the karaoke on Saturday nights.
This place is so classy you expect to see Nick and Nora walk through the door any minute. Flickering candles light the room; jazz plays in the background, and classic novels on shelves are invitation to read. The snacks are un-boring (Chinese corn dogs to start) and the cocktails are well-crafted. What more could one demand?
Part of the fun here is watching your cocktail get mixed from the wraparound bar. The food is South American and liberally flavoured with spice. Try the chorizo margarita as you sample the tapas and enjoy the show.
It’s just so Portland to make sure there are plenty of places to park your bike and Victory has patrons covered. They are a bit rough around the edges – purposefully – and challenge the idea that you have to play nice to be popular. Come for happy hour and try the venison burger and a Corpse Reviver cocktail.
Borrowing decorating tips from Gaston, the owners have crammed antlers into just about every space they could find. While it's high on hunting lodge style, the aesthetic isn’t really what this place is about. Try trendy snacks like Triscuit nachos and the oh-so-Portland Pear Kombucha while you play Monday-night Bingo.
Low Brow Lounge
Every city needs a good dive bar and this one certainly fits the bill. Perfectly situated in a high-brow district (stick it to the man!), the Lounge is a bit dark and dingy with cranky bartenders and cheap specials. The bartenders get nicer as the night wears on and that thrifty beer goes well with tater tots and a chili dog.
The other bar every city needs is a tiki lounge, complete with Polynesian decor and loads of thatch. The look is kitsch but the drinks are decidedly better than those you’ll find on a beach. Good-quality rum and fresh juice make the base of the beverage. Precisely measured splashes of liqueurs finish off the flavor. You can even get drinks served in a pineapple...but you may have to ask for the umbrella.
Despite being housed in a hayloft, the Rookery serves high-end cocktails made with the finest tequila and rum, mixed to perfection. Leather couches and a giant fireplace keep the bar from being pretentious but it's still elegant enough to bring a date.
The Eagle Eye
Local brews and liquors are showcased at this fun spot that’s still finding its niche in the Portland bar scene. It is brightly painted, furnished with pool tables and has an open mic comedy event on Monday nights. Weekends are reserved for karaoke and if the cocktails aren’t something to write home about, the beer on tap can’t be beat.
What else can you expect from a taproom called Pints? You get free fries with a beer during happy hour and it’s a warm, welcoming bar. Mornings at pints come with fresh coffee and breakfast sandwiches served with the same cheerful zeal the evening crowd experiences.
Jazz, blues and soulful rhythms play nearly every night in this poorly situated, yet amazing bar. Looking a bit like the pawn shops it sits among, the Blue Diamond has live music, local musicians and a community-forward attitude. The menu is burgers-and-fry based and the full bar serves the usual cocktails and beers.
Multnohmah Whiskey Library
Multnomah Whiskey Library is the Holy Grail of whiskey bars. Passing through the door is something akin to stepping into the Gatsby era. Patrons are lead up a stairwell and through an obscured entryway, where they are immediately greeted by a wall of illuminated bottles. Fifteen hundred or so. Bartenders in brown canvas aprons ascend sliding brass ladders, deftly navigating the wall to locate a single bottle. Handsome tufted leather sofas stand among wood paneled walls and a brick fireplace. Emerald shade banker's lamps embellish long tables and portraits of well-coiffed men watch over the company.
Pépé le Moko
Advertised within the Ace Hotel as an underground bar, we hightailed to Pépé le Moko. A set of stairs lead into a shadowy subterranean lounge. The curved ceiling form was suggestive of an underground shelter. Otherwise shrouded in dim light, a few solitary bulbs cast a spotlight over the bartenders, who crafted cocktails over a long zinc bar. Seating just 36 persons, we loved Pépé le Moko's intimate and mysterious feel.
Have you sipped the brews in Portland?
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