How The Other Half Drinks 

The Mercury Drinking Issue: Challenging the Complacency of the Portland Drinker

If you were to look very, very carefully at the sidewalk outside of my apartment, you would see what appears to be a shallow trench leading east. Were you to crouch down and use your best urban scouting skills to follow this trench, you'd find that it led you on a comprehensive tour of the bars on SE/NE 28th, beginning at the Bonfire and ending with the Red Flag. This beaten path exists because I am a creature of habit. I drink at the same bars, several times a week. I drink the same things, with the same people—a state of affairs that is both comforting, stifling, and a little bit sad. It's also not that uncommon. It's very easy to stake out a little corner of your town and just... never leave, especially since every neighborhood has one or two great locals. Which is why, though Portlanders are some of the nicest and most progressive and generally likeable people I've ever met, we've also got a reputation for being cliquish and insular (a visiting friend from DC said recently, "No one talks to anyone here!"). This insularity is reinforced by a level of near-institutionalized social awkwardness—is there anyone in this town who ever got picked first for the grade school soccer team? (And if I have to hear "I'm just really socially awkward" as an excuse for general rudeness one more time... but that's a different article.)

So the goal of this drinking issue? Drink like somebody else, for a change. See what it's like to drink like someone who's never been to this city before, or someone who makes more than $24,000 a year (god, that sounds... amazing), or someone who goes to Aura instead of the Sandy Hut when they're looking to get laid. Maybe it'll be fun. And if not, well, when you find yourself headed back to the same old bars, at least maybe you'll appreciate them a little more.

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