The Portland Dive Bar Preservation Society

The Portland Dive Bar Preservation Society

Thirteen of the City's Finest Places to Drink, or Just Plain Exist

The Trap: From Soft-Serve Ice Cream to Bloody Marys

Foster-Powell Bar Is Monument to Everything Right About a Dive Bar

The Ship Ahoy: Where Living Happens

A Neighborhood Place to Drink Away the Workday

Blue Diamond: A Sparkling Gem

Man, Those Cats Sure Like to Boogie

Tavern on Denver: No Bullshit and the Coldest Beer in Town

Kenton Landmark Has Lifeblood of Neighborhood Running Through It

The (World Famous) Kenton Club: World Famous for a Reason

A History of Bikers, Raquel Welch, and Punk Rock

Checkered Flag: A Bar Where Everybody Knows Your Name—for Real

This 82nd Avenue Clubhouse Has Not a Single Yelp Review

My Father's Place Is (Almost) Always Open

Not Even Snow Can Stay This Bar from Its Appointed Round

Slim's: A 105-Year History and Some of Portland's Best Bar Food

Come in a Suit or Covered in Paint—the St. Johns Haunt Welcomes All

Reel M Inn: An Oasis in a Desert of Development

Fried Chicken, Jo-Jos, and an Escape from 2016 Portland

Watertrough Saloon: Dusting off a Time Capsule

Edging Out of the 1970s at the SE Hawthorne Dive

Lariat Lounge: Comforting Simplicity, with a Side of Suspicion

Regulars Are Always Welcome. You? Not So Much.

Further Drinking: 75 More Places to Wet Your Whistle

The Portland Mercury's Favorite Places to Pop in for a Cold One

"THIS PLACE has been under different names—same vibe all the way through, though," says Justyn Reese, a bartender at the Ship Ahoy Tavern who styles himself as "the Reverend." When asked about its current name, Reese offers two competing theories. The first is that the bar used to be popular with sailors. The second is that it's called that simply because of the nautical decorations. "I hope it's the first one," the Reverend says.

There are indeed plenty of model ships, lighthouses, and that type of thing bedecking the walls of the neighborhood bar. It's enough to give the place character without crossing over into kitsch. According to the Reverend, many of the ships and other bits of nautical ephemera were gifted to the bar by regulars.

The central elevated counter snakes along the main room in a rectangular shape. Three television screens glow down onto patrons. As I sit at the bar, the TVs are showing women's college basketball, a nature documentary, and Caddyshack.

Ship Ahoy is an easy bar to be alone in, which is important for bars of a certain kind. To my left, an old man sips a drink while reading the closed captions of the nature documentary. A few other folks hunch over their phones along the bar, but the place is animated. The four-top tables are all occupied, and the murmur of conversation is good and thick with the background music. The bartender jokes with one of the guys at the bar who looks lost in thought. "Wake up, motherfucker!" The customer shakes awake and laughs. They seem to know each other. The bartender calls a few other patrons by name, and it's not odd to see regular customers get hugs with their first drink when they come in.

Ship Ahoy is a neighborhood place, the kind you hang out in after work on a weekday. It's not momentous or gigantic, but that's why it's good. It's the type of neighborhood bar where one can just be, whether gazing into a TV screen or standing at a pinball machine.

Other than $1 Miller tallboys on Thursday nights, Ship Ahoy's drink offerings are fairly standard in terms of price and selection. The beer taps offer a respectable selection of just over a half-dozen craft beers and ciders, along with some snack food like pretzels and frozen pizza. The staff lets you bring in some outside food, though, such as fare from the neighboring C-Bar and a nearby Mexican restaurant.

Well-appointed food or fancy mixology isn't why you go to Ship Ahoy, though. This is the type of spot where beloved, departed regulars have their picture on the wall. According to Reese, the oldest regular has been coming in steadily since World War II. It's easy to see why. Like the best dive bars, Ship Ahoy is a place where living happens.