When you have as many amazing cocktail spots as Portland has, it’s important for a bar to stand out. This drives bartenders to creativity: For some, it means finding a niche, starting a trend, or developing an innovative new approach to making drinks. Whether it’s barrel-aged drinks, sous vide cocktails, or bold new ingredients, Portland bartenders have shaped the scene of the city and beyond.
Thus we present the Portland cocktail trends map. Find the tastiest libations from this city’s most innovative bars. (Note that the points on this map are not ranked. They are organized geographically).
Sherry can add salinity and body to cocktails, and sherry cocktails can add a lot to Ataula’s already magnificent tapas. Let bar manager Angel Teta make you one of her signature sherry-based cocktails. You’d be hard pressed to find a more knowledgeable bartender on wine in Portland.
Not only does MWL have an epic whiskey collection, it has changed what it means to be a bar. Here, you take a seat, as at a restaurant, and the bartenders bring the bar to you on an old-school wooden cart with wheels. Watch up close from the comfort of your high backed captain’s chair as your mobile barkeep shakes and stirs one of the thousand spirits for your fancy beverage of choice.
Raven and Rose and its upstairs bar The Rookery specialize in a number of things, including sourcing exclusive, custom-blended spirits. But in the colder months the menu features an extensive selection of hot drinks. Classics like Portland’s own Spanish Coffee are there, as well as original drinks like the Ballycotton Toddy, an Irish whiskey toddy with a moss reduction that gives it a silkiness and light vegetal quality. All of them are great for warming you up on a cold Portland winter day.
Many of our great bartenders in this city learned their craft under Teardrop Lounge owner Daniel Shoemaker’s watch. Today, this Pearl District mainstay is still the place for a thoughtfully and classically made cocktail built on top-shelf spirits and a host of house-made components, including a massive selection of inventive bitters (bitters are like salt and pepper for cocktails). Bring a group of friends and try one of their shareable drinks, serving up to six people.
Bit House Saloon has an entire section of its cocktail menu devoted to the old fashioned, a drink that can be made with more than just whiskey. Each one on the menu has its own spirit and flavors, like the Auld Bas, a scotch old-fashioned with smoked tea, cinnamon, and honey. Those looking for a more traditional take will be happy with the House Old Fashioned made with the BSH Single Barrel Buffalo Trace, demerara sugar, and Angostura bitters.
We all know that chef Bonnie Morales knows her pelmeni and zakuski, but you can’t get the full-on Russian experience without vodka. Here there’s a huge selection of local, imported, and house-infused vodkas. If you thought all vodkas tasted the same, educate yourself with a flight. And don’t miss the beautifully balanced house infusions like horseradish, rosemary, or juniper, which pair perfectly with the food.
When you have wood fired ovens and sous vide cookers, you might as well use them; at least, that’s Collin Carroll’s sentiments for the bar at Trifecta Tavern. Here, he and his staff char different woods to infuse into cocktails via sous vide. They also make clarified milk punches, classic cocktails, and more whimsical drinks, as exemplified by the “Yacht Drinks” portion of the menu.
It’s a good sign when bartenders namedrop a bar, and in Portland, that’s usually going to be Rum Club. Head here to explore rum’s wide range of styles, on its own and in drinks. There’s a huge selection of the spirit, and it’s always in good hands, with veteran Portland bartender Mike Shea running the show.
Gin and tonics can be found at any bar, but the ones at the Spanish tapas and wine bar Bar Casa Vale are unique. The menu includes several different “gin tonics,” and each is served in a large goblet full of cracked ice, adorned with beautiful botanicals that do more than just please the eye: The herbs and citrus are carefully selected for each gin to enhance its flavor profile.
While there are many bars claiming to be speakeasys, none are as authentic as Bible Club. Every piece of barware and every fixture in the restaurant, down to the door-knobs, are vintage, often dating back before the turn of the century. Cocktails here are made to match, giving you a truly historical experience.
There’s no menu at Angel Face; instead, bartenders make a drink according to your described preferences, and they’re always up for a challenge. You can stick with straightforward adjectives, like “sweet,” “dry,” or “bold,” or you can be playful with “melancholy,” “urbane,” “refined,” and “vivacious.” Either way, their talent turns your wish into a libation.
Often, a “tropical” drink means something cloying and full of fruit juices and syrups. Not so at Earl Nimson’s Thai restaurant Paadee, where bar manager Jon Lewis is making creative, spirit-forward drinks with a variety of unconventional ingredients. Coconut and banana are two of his go-to flavors, and they’re expertly mixed with mezcal, rum, tequila, and whiskeys for creative, balanced cocktails that pair excellently with Paadee’s food.
It’s a dream team mash-up of James Beard Award-winning chef Naomi Pomeroy’s drinking snacks and Kyle Webster’s drinking creations at this cozy cocktail spot. Go with the will of the bartender by ordering the Diplomatic Pouch, a blind box of a drink in which the ingredients remain a mystery.
From the day it opened, the bar at this Southeast modern Mexican restaurant has devoted itself to the many pleasures of the agave, with liberal use of smoky mezcal in the cocktails and eye-opening tequila and mezcal flights.