We began our night of North Portland bar crawlin' with a refined bang, at Lovely Hula Hands (938 N Cook), per the suggestion of one of the three friends joining me for a girls-night-out drink-a-thon. This sweet restaurant and bar, tucked into a vintage house just off of N Mississippi, served us a pile of schmancy drinks—like a blackberry-infused vodka concoction with a dabble of lemon juice, and a drink that boasted fresh lime juice, rose water, and cranberry juice—at our cozy table next to the bar. Behind us, a trio dug into a full meal and a bottle (or two) of wine. The tiny space was humming with early-Friday night anticipation.
Our girly drinks finished, we hiked up Mississippi to the next destination, passing both the Mississippi Pizza Pub (3552 N Mississippi) and Amnesia Brewery (832 N Beech), two hot spots packed with the neighborhood's young, beer-swilling crowd. Usually, we're in there—but that night, we were on the hunt for Mississippi's beer alternatives.
At Mississippi Station (3943 N Mississippi), a pleasant server whisked us past the back patio, where every table around the massive outdoor fireplace was full. Sitting us in a secluded second patio, she took our order—more fancy drinks, including a coffee martini and a gigantic summery drink with with vanilla vodka and muddled lime.
After fending off a giant spider that was eyeing our drinks—and eavesdropping at the hopping private party at the adjacent Mississippi Studios—we jaywalked across Mississippi to check out the bar at Pasta Bangs (3950 N Mississippi). The bartender steered us toward a cushy booth, and we ordered some classics: lemon drops and mojitos.
We drained our glasses and squeezed out the door, past men and women flirting at the sidewalk tables. Next door, we peeked into the smoky Crow Bar (3954 N Mississippi), where regulars were at the bar and hipsters were facing off at the pool table. We elected instead to venture a few blocks east, to N Williams, where the neighborhood's latest watering hole—Vendetta—beckons.
Our arrival at Vendetta (4306 N Williams) was marked with an immediate pit stop at the restroom—the six-block walk nearly did us in—followed by a round of well drinks and a plate of nachos. We checked out the people dueling at shuffleboard along the back wall, and the blonde woman bumming a cigarette off a man on the sidewalk just outside the front door. At half past midnight, the packed bar was suddenly illuminated by the house lights—it was last call already, inexplicably. Patrons grumbled, closed their tabs, and—like us—stumbled back home.