Welcome, traveler. Let’s toast your arrival with an alcoholic drink, which Portlanders love even more than coffee or weed. In the spirit of assimilation, here’s a visitor’s guide to drinking in Portland:
Horse Brass Pub (4534 SE Belmont)
Portland beer culture would be nothing without Don Younger, a beer drinker’s beer drinker and adviser to the OGs of Portland craft brewing. Even though he’s moved on to the smoking section of that great taphouse in the sky, his legacy lives on in the nearly limitless beer list at Portland’s favorite English pub, the world-famous Horse Brass.
Prost! (4237 N Mississippi, Stammtisch 401 NE 28th)
Prost! is an excellent German bar with a rowdy clientele of mid-20s golfer-class kids. But Portland needed a grown-up beer bar, too, and luckily Prost! owner Dan Hart opened Stammtisch. With rare German beers on tap, an Alpine food menu, and a friendly shared-table vibe, Stammtisch is an ideal old-world bar.
Ex Novo Brewing (2326 N Flint)
Welcome to Portland, where even drinking beer is a selflessly woke act. Okay, you can’t exactly write off a pint of Eliot IPA on your taxes, but Ex Novo Brewing does partner with local and national nonprofit organizations to make sure their own profits are put to good use. Recent partners have included Friends of the Children, the International Justice Mission, Impact NW, and MercyCorps. Headed to watch any of Portland’s sports teams, or a show at the Rose Garden? With a full menu from tacos to fried chicken to mac and cheese, and one of the better whiskey selections in the area, it’s no wonder Ex Novo is such a popular pre-game spot.
Sassy’s (927 SE Morrison)
If you’re visiting Portland because you heard we had the most strip clubs per capita, well I think that’s kind of a weird criterion, but welcome anyway. The beautiful thing about being known for both beer and boobs is that bars like Sassy’s exist: one of the best unsung craft beer taplists in town happens to be waiting with open arms and no top on. (Also see “Portland’s Best Strip Clubs,” page 23.)
Bar Avignon (2138 SE Division)
Oregon and Washington’s beautiful landscapes aren’t just pretty: They offer some of the best winemaking country in the world. Bar Avignon will show you the ropes, with a host of local wines alongside classics and youngbloods of the global scene, in an unpretentious bar and bistro setting. Everyone working there is an obvious wine geek, so don’t worry if you can’t even pronounce the names on the bottles.
1856 (1465 NE Prescott)
One of the best bottle shops in town, with an admirable selection of imported and regional wine, beer, cider, sake, bitters, and a whole lot more, 1856 also has a small but lovable bar, with six beers on tap and wines by the glass. Best of all—apart from the regular tastings and knowledgeable, helpful owners—there is no corkage fee for anything you pull from the shelves to imbibe at the bar.
Dame (2930 NE Killingsworth)
While offering a version of that Portland favorite—seasonal, European-influenced, Pacific Northwest cooking—much of Dame’s buzz comes from the fact all of their wines are natural, made with few additives and as little intervention as possible. There’s plenty on Dame’s list to get wine geeks excited, with selections of Radikon and Texier to pick over, but the rest of us should just get recommendations from their helpful, knowledgeable staff.
M Bar (417 NW 21st)
There’s something captivating about this snug bar, especially on a cool evening: an otherworldly romanticism is conjured from the intimate space and lit by candles. The happy hour also helps, running from a sociable 6-8 pm, way past when most other places have finished. With $3 off, glass pours are the way to go. The chalkboard menu offers a selection of reasonably priced European reds and whites, alongside a couple of local favorites and a sparkling wine, all to be had for as little as three bucks.
The Solo Club (2110 NW Raleigh)
The Solo Club is the cheery sister bar to revived historical restaurant Besaw’s—in fact, it takes its name from the moniker Besaw’s used during prohibition. But while its look may be expat-retro, the cocktails are very 21st century. Whether you’re already hooked on amaro—the Italian school of bitter liqueur currently much beloved by American bartenders—or you want to know more about them, the bar at Solo Club offers shelf after shelf of bittersweet bliss, and a menu full of cocktails showcasing various examples. From the simple but surprising (a spritz, a negroni spagliato, or a beer or gin and tonic with a shot of amaro in it) to the big and boozy seasonal cocktail list, the Solo Club is never pretentious, but never boring, either.
Multnomah Whiskey Library (1124 SW Alder)
If you feel like rubbing elbows with the fancy folk, and you’ve got a hankering for a $1,200 bottle of wine or a $260 glass of undoubtedly delicious and impossibly rare Campbeltown, MWL has you covered. Of course, you can also get any of the hundreds of reasonably priced spirits lining the walls floor to ceiling, but as long as you’re there, why not commit to some light economic villainy?
Rum Club (720 SE Sandy)
Some of the best cocktails in the city are coming out of the unassuming partial tiki bar, Rum Club. It’s true Portland royalty, wearing a crown of paper umbrellas, ribbons of orange peel, and swizzle-stick tree branches. (For full-on tiki, check out Hale Pele and the Alibi in our “More Places to Drink” section.)
La Moule (2500 SE Clinton)
If the only drink on the menu at La Moule was the Scotch Lodge, it would still be the finest cocktail bar in the city. Luckily, that jewel is not the only one in this crown, which also boasts a full menu featuring multiple preparations of its namesake bivalve (moule = mussel), wine and Belgian beer, and even brunch on Sundays.
Departure (525 SW Morrison)
You’ll want to come here for the views—so you can spy on downtown going about its business, or enjoy Portland’s extensive panorama. But if this gets boring, the people-watching on the terrace is unrivaled. Though pricey, the drinks are generally top quality.
Roadside Attraction (1000 SE 12th)
Roadside Attraction’s covered patio is the perfect place to learn to love Portland’s near-incessant rain. Sit by the fire, listen to the water pelting the awning, and guzzle Fernet like it’s the deluge.
Rontoms (600 E Burnside)
While it may have a bit of a hipster reputation, don’t let that put you off, as Rontoms has a splendid patio with mixed seating options and fire pits—and there’s ping-pong.
Vendetta (4306 N Williams)
Head out back at Vendetta and you’re suddenly transported from a shadowy bar into a Zen-like paradise—or at least a serene patio with shrubs and gravel and plenty of seating. There’s a decent tap list (pitchers are available) and a menu of cheese pretzels, sandwiches, and the like.
More Places to Drink For Beer Lovers
Widmer Brothers Pub, 929 N Russell
Breakside Brewery, 820 NE Dekum
Gigantic Brewing Co., 5224 SE 26th
The BeerMongers, 1125 SE Division
Belmont Station, 4500 SE Stark
StormBreaker Brewing, 823 N Beech, 8409 N Lombard
Roscoe’s, 8105 SE Stark
For Wine Lovers
Teutonic Wine Company, 3303 SE 20th
Division Wines, 3564 SE Division
Thelonius Wines, 516 NW 9th
SE Wine Collective, 2425 SE 35th Pl
For Cocktail Lovers
Teardrop Lounge, 1015 NW Everett
Expatriate, 5424 NE 30th
Bible Club, 6716 SE 16th
Interurban, 4057 N Mississippi
Hale Pele, 2733 NE Broadway
The Alibi, 4024 N Interstate
For Sports Lovers
4-4-2, 1739 SE Hawthorne
Spirit of ‘77, 500 NE MLK
Yur’s Bar & Grill, 717 NW 16th
Saraveza, 1004 N Killingsworth