For a relatively small city, Portland, Ore., is a big cocktail town. It boasts almost a dozen artisanal distilleries, several famous bartenders and, of course, many fine watering holes. And that’s not to mention the annual Great American Distillers Festival it hosts, or the recently established Portland Cocktail Week. And if you should want something other than a mixed drink, there are 36 local breweries. This is definitely a place with plenty to do on a rainy day.
The aptly named Beaker & Flask is one of Portland’s leading restaurants, offering delicious seasonal cuisine. Owner Kevin Ludwig’s drinks menu makes it a must-visit for imbibers as well. The cocktails are progressive but with a nod to the past. There is also great attention to detail in their presentation and purpose on the menu.
What to Drink: Sal’s Minion (rum, house-made pineapple gomme syrup, coconut-water ice cubes)
Elegant décor, stylish clientele and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine make Bluehour a top spot. There’s also a list of great classic and original drinks to whet the appetite as well as a brunch menu of “morning cocktails” with Fizzes, Bloody Marys, Corpse Revivers and Bellinis.
What to Drink: Taj Mahal (Plymouth Gin, Maraska Maraschino Liqueur, lemon, rosewater)
Clyde Common is a bustling and fun bar with great drinks. No surprise, since it was put together by one of the best bartenders in the business, Jeffrey Morgenthaler. It’s a pleasure to watch him at work—he’s efficient, entertaining and mixes a phenomenal cocktail.
For a true theatrical bartending experience, have a flaming Spanish Coffee at the oldest restaurant in Portland, which dates back to 1879. Enjoy cocktails in Huber’s grand dining room, which features a soaring vaulted ceiling and a long, grand oak bar. Even though it may feel slightly touristy, you have to stop by for at least one drink.
What to Drink: Spanish Coffee (Bacardi 151 Rum, Kahlua, triple sec, coffee, whipped cream, nutmeg)
Lucy Brennan, author of Hip Sips, opened Mint (pictured above) in 2001. It was a pioneer of the fresh-ingredient mixology movement that has since swept the country. Two years later, Brennan opened 820 right next door. It has an even stronger cocktail focus and a long menu of excellent creations.
What to Drink: Avocado Daiquiri (light and gold rums, avocado, cream, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar)
There are few places in Portland that have garnered as much press as the slickly designed Saucebox. Another early pioneer of the mixology movement, the pan-Asian and Pacific Island restaurant opened in 1995 and has one of the most elaborate cocktail menus in the country with more than 90 drinks.
What to Drink: Royal Fire (house-made schizandra ice, house-infused ginger vodka, Harlequin Orange Liqueur, orange)
Looking for cocktail geek-heaven? Head to Teardrop. The bar is covered with a range of house-made bitters, tinctures, infusions, syrups and even liqueurs. There are tasty (and complex) original drinks and classic concoctions as well as recipes borrowed from bartenders around the country.
What to Drink: Unfinished Business (Laird’s Applejack, Cocchi Americano, Bonal Gentiane-Quina, bitters, agave nectar, flamed absinthe)
Looking for more great watering holes? Check out our bar guide for the best bars in the world.
Simon Ford is an award-winning bartender and director of trade outreach and brand education for Pernod Ricard USA. He is also a Liquor.com advisor.