Portland, Oregon, has long been known for its food and beverage scene—beer, coffee, and great eats. But the Rose City is building a reputation for craft cocktails as well, capitalizing on the momentum of star bartenders like Jeffrey Morgenthaler (he’s one of the guys who popularized barrel-aged cocktails back in 2010) and earning a well-deserved reputation as a city full of outstanding cocktails.
There are plenty of standalone cocktail bars in Portland, and an embarrassment of award-winning restaurants with memorable cocktail programs. We’ve gathered five of the best; Consider this the Cliffs Notes to Portland’s burgeoning cocktail culture.
Multnomah Whiskey Library
Young, and already famed for its near-perfect service, outstanding spirits list (over 1500 bottlings), and three-hour waits, the Multnomah Whiskey Library will reward you for your patience with a memorable, possibly even mind-blowing, experience. Anything here will be outstanding, but you should try the Tipperary, a classic cocktail your bartender will whip into being right in front of you (like a magic trick) over an antique rolling bar cart.
Via Hale Pele
You can’t try Portland’s cocktail culture without visiting Hale Pele, a tiki bar where puffer fish globes illuminate your happy hour Puaa Pork Sliders, where volcanoes occasionally explode in the distance, and where you can find some of the best tiki drink classics reimagined for modern sensibilities. Try the Three Dots and a Dash, a delicious rum-based cocktail credited to the first tiki bar ever, Don the Beachcomber. Or, try the rum of the day as a Daiquiri, Rum & Coke, Old Fashioned, or neat.
For a conclusive sample of the cool, creative, and sometimes confusing Portland food & beverage culture in one glass, stop in at Expatriate, a bar built around the personality of Kyle Linden Webster and his James Beard-nominated wife and nearby Beast owner, Naomi Pomeroy. Anything you drink here will be balanced, boozy, and damned cool, but try the Precariat and see if it reminds you of the crisp mountain air Webster had in mind when he created it.
The Rookery at Raven & Rose
Like a refreshing cross between an English country tavern and a Shaker house, The Rookery, above Raven & Rose, offers a unique experience in Portland’s cocktail landscape. The drinks menu here is outstanding, but the Caroline’s Fancy is a memorable cocktail made with single-barrel tequila with cardamom bitters balancing the silky texture to perfection. The Raven & Rose inhabits an historic building, the Ladd Carriage House, and the space is the perfect marriage of history and forward-thinking ingredient sourcing and menu creation.
Pepe le Moko
If you’re into cocktail culture, you’ll want to visit Pepe le Moko just for the chance of drinking a Long Island Iced Tea from the hands of standout bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who’s gaining a reputation for giving tired cocktails new life. Case in point, the rising cocktail star has rescued and reimagined the Amaretto Sour. Sweet, tart, extremely drinkable, and garnished with a twist of lemon and a brandied cherry, Morgenthaler’s Amaretto Sour is an unforgettable experience.