BUSHWACKER CIDER opened last month in an unassuming spot off SE Powell; it's on SE 12th, around the corner from the Subway and facing opposite the Berlin Inn. (Almost everybody in our party had to text for directions.) Bushwhacker specializes in cider and only cider (with the exception of a tiny amount of beer), offering seven selections on tap and dozens more in the bottle. It's the kind of specialized niche bar that makes you proud to be a Portland drinker. Where else in the city—or the world—can you find so many ciders in one place?
Bushwhacker is appropriately casual, with a roll-up garage door and outside seating, plus a handsome wooden bar and two dartboards. It still feels unfinished—a couple large vats in the rear point towards the future when owners Jeff and Erin Smith begin to make their own cider on the premises. A goofy, fantasy-themed mural is currently partially blocked off by the two large coolers, which house Bushwhacker's impressive assortment of ciders to take home or drink on the premises. They don't keep a bar's hours; they're open 3-9 pm on Monday through Thursday, and 1-10 pm on Friday though Sunday.
The abbreviated hours are kind of a blessing; drinking cider all night is a bad idea. And here a word of warning seems appropriate: Cider will fuck you up. After a scant three pints, I was feeling like I'd drunk a lot more. And the fallout is significant—both myself and my friend consider ourselves to be adventurous and experienced drinkers, but we both felt absolutely rotten the next day. Blame it on cider's puckery efficiency, or its passing resemblance to lite beer (there ain't nothing lite about it). Go slow, and eat before you visit Bushwhacker; they don't serve meals, and the cider packs a wallop.
Bushwhacker Cider, 1212-D SE Powell, 445-0577, bushwhackercider.com