Food & Drink

Where to Drink in Portland This Holiday Season

Updated On 12/13/2017 at 06:24PM EST Updated On 12/13/2017 at 06:24PM EST
Hale Pele

Hale Pele

Lloyd District

Beloved and kitschy tiki bar
You’d think a decked out tiki bar would be better in summer, but given that Hale Pele is mostly closed to the outside, it’s actually the perfect cold weather bar. When the rains come in winter months, you can hide out at HP and feel transported to a tropical island. That, and the drinks are really, really good, elevating the tiki aesthetic to a craft cocktail level with house-made syrups and high-end rums.




Ostentatious cocktail lounge with killer food
It’s rare that a bar’s food threatens to overshadow its drinks, but most bar menus aren’t written by Naomi Pomeroy, head chef of the famous prix fixe spot Beast, which sits right across the street from Expatriate. Luckily, Expatriate’s founder and Pomeroy’s husband, Kyle Webster, manages to keep up with her Asian-style chicken & waffles and Indian-spiced fries by putting out his own fantastic and innovative cocktails, all in a lush and cozy Asian-European-styled space.

Alex Frane/Thrillist


Mississippi Avenue

Rustic and classy late-night gastropub
When it comes to eating a full dinner at a bar, Interurban is hard to beat. It blurs the line between restaurant and pub with delicious cocktails, including bottled ones to share -- and rich, rustic New American cuisine with a French touch. Nice beer and wine selections round everything out, and the happy hour offers great deals, including $5 glasses of wine and house cocktails. The back patio is winter friendly, with a cover to keep out the rain and a fire pit to keep you warm.

Alex Frane/Thrillist

Aalto Lounge


Amazing happy hour with $3 cocktails and food
Let’s get happy hour out of the way: $3 cocktails and snacks, 5pm to 7pm, every day. But Aalto Lounge exists outside of those hours, serving affordable cocktails and light dishes in a chic, mid-century design setting all night. A partially covered patio means outdoor drinking all year, and each night features local DJs spinning inside. The bar manages to feel like a casual neighborhood haunt and a swanky cocktail lounge simultaneously.

The Knock Back

The Knock Back

Alberta Arts

Unpretentious neighborhood hangout with solid beer-shot combos
There are many bars on Alberta, but The Knock Back has a special warmth to it, and manages to hit that precise midpoint between a cocktail lounge and a neighborhood hangout. The drinks are well-executed but unpretentious, with slushy drinks and shot and beer combos next to craft cocktails. The food menu is full of fun bar snacks, like bacon Parmesan popcorn and a wide selection of sliders. The dog-friendly front patio, covered and heated, is busy all year round.

Bit House Saloon

Bit House Saloon


Trendy hotspot for inventive cocktails and hard to find spirits
The massive brick-lined, leather-filled Bit House Saloon was a hit in 2016, quickly making a name for itself with a dedicated bar staff pouring inventive cocktails, boilermakers, and whiskeys of all kind. Now, the original bar crew has departed for other ventures, but the quality and busy atmosphere remain the same, with exciting new concoctions regularly appearing, a bustling upstairs venue for parties and shows. In 2017, BHS also had chef Ricky Bella overhaul the food menu, making it a great dinner destination as well.

Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Clyde Common


One of Portland's most respected cocktail bars
Portland’s “celebrity bartender” Jeffrey Morgenthaler can still be found behind the stick at Clyde Common most nights, despite having his own cocktail lounge downstairs, Pépé le Moko (a great bar in its own right). But no matter who you get, you’re guaranteed excellent service and great drinks at this full restaurant and bar. While house cocktails like the barrel aged negroni are a major draw, there’s also a stellar whiskey selection and robust wine list.

La Moule

La Moule


Sexy Belgian bistro and bar
La Moule started strong in October 2015, and has since only honed its wares. It’s a beautiful and cozy space, with heart/mussel wallpaper, dim lighting, and a gorgeous copper bar top. With chef Aaron Barnett crafting delicious French- and Belgian-influenced dishes, most notably the eponymous mussels, it’s arguably more of a relaxed bistro than a bar. But when sipping on a cocktail, Belgian beer, sherry, absinthe, or any of the other amazing drinks here, you’d be hard pressed to call it one or the other.

Rum Club

Rum Club


Divey cocktail bar where local bartenders hang
Head into Rum Club at any point and you’ll likely run into an off-shift bartender from your other favorite spot, sipping on a daiquiri or throwing back a shot of rum and a beer. But that doesn’t mean the bar is exclusive. What it is a celebration of rum, with excellently made drinks and a voluminous collection of the spirit, served in a casual, dive-bar like atmosphere. Those who aren’t fans of rum can find whiskey, tequila, and gin drinks on the menu, but the focus is still primarily on the sugarcane.

Shift Drinks


Cavernous, industrial cocktail bar with all day happy hour
Shift Drinks operates on the principle that anyone, regardless of their job, should have a welcoming place to grab a drink after work, whether their preference leans towards cocktails, beer, or wine. As such, the industrial-chic bar serves happy hour all day, with cocktail specials, draft beers, as well as elegantly prepared bar snacks. For those looking for something more indulgent, the cocktails filling the regular menu, prepared by bar manager Alise Moffat, are exceptional. The expertly cultivated wine menu makes this place not only a destination for cocktails, but one of the best wine bars in the city.

Teardrop Lounge

Teardrop Lounge

Pearl District

Portland's seriously OG cocktail lounge
Sure, Portland had a cocktail scene before Teardrop opened a little over a decade ago, but nothing like what the bar helped usher in. TDL put Portland on the map for its dedication to classic cocktails and carefully developed menu of original drinks. Today it maintains its relevance with a three-part menu of original, classic, and borrowed drinks that alternate with the season. Don’t come here expecting beer, wine, or a full meal, but do expect some of the most well-crafted mix drinks you can find in town.

Vintage Cocktail Lounge

The Vintage Cocktail Lounge


Small bar serving craft cocktails -- good for dates
Tucked into the Montavilla neighborhood, The Vintage offers an extensive menu of, unsurprisingly, vintage cocktails, sorted by spirit type. The shotgun house of a bar is warm yet dark, dominated by a towering wall of spirits, ready to be poured by knowledgeable staff members. It’s a great place for a date or a quiet night out, less so for raucous groups.

Courtesy of Bar Casa Vale

Bar Casa Vale


Homey Spanish tapas bar with great sangria
BCV took Portland by storm this year, bringing yet another excellent bar to the Buckman neighborhood. The gorgeous brick and tile bar plays host to an array of Spanish wines and sherries, as well as gin and tonics, brandy cocktails, and more. Drinking snacks and larger fare have a Spanish twist, with much of it cooked over a direct flame. The happy hour, served both early and late as well as all day Sundays, offers great options on sherry flights, sangria, and snacks.

Courtesy of Bible Club

Bible Club


A time machine to the Prohibition era
There’s been plenty written about Bible Club’s amazing interior, exclusively filled with vintage furniture and equipment; even the floor and ceilings trace their origins to the early 20th century. There’s more to it than that, however. The drinks are some of the priciest in the city, but they’re worth the indulgence, with bartenders drawing from pre-Prohibition for influence (but more than willing to develop their own based on your tastes). The crowd skews older than most spots in the city, making it a nice getaway for non-millennials, a rare gift in Portland.


Trifecta Tavern


Rugged Northwestern restaurant and bar with a cheeseburger happy hour
Though technically a restaurant, Trifecta’s bar dominates most of the space, and the voluminous menu offers as many cocktails as food items. At the long marble bar, creative drinks are made including charred wood cocktails, clarified milk punches, frozen martinis, swizzles and more. The full rustic Northwestern dinner menu is available at the bar, with fun happy hour offerings throughout the week, including the famous pimento double cheeseburger.

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1. Hale Pele 2733 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97232

You might be a landlubber, but there's no reason you can't pretend to be a pirate and taste more than 50 different rums from all over the map, earning monikers that were previously reserved for guys with birds on their shoulders. Hale Pele in the Lloyd District rejects your average tiki cocktails and instead adopts more inventive cocktails. Don't forget to order the Zombies, which are so strong they are limited to two per person.

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2. Expatriate 5424 NE 30th Ave, Portland, OR 97211

Arguably one of Portland's most popular cocktail bars, the bartenders at Expatriate are professionally trained mixologists who, in addition to perfecting the classics, have a knack for creating custom or experimental drinks. And in addition to these carefully-crafted concoctions, the bar also offers a menu of refined bar bites. The Prohibition-era vibe is evident from the gold and red decor that is way more sexy than kitschy.

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3. Interurban 4057 N Mississippi, Portland, OR 97227

A partnership between the dudes behind Toro Bravo and Prost, Mississippi's Interurban straddles the line between bar and restaurant, with a great cocktail program and full dinner menu. Outside is covered during the winter, but in spring, the roof is removed, exposing the entire back patio for sunny happy-hour drinking. The place evokes a cozy feel with rich wood and leather chairs. If you come with a group, consider ordering the bottled cocktails that are perfect for sharing.

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4. Aalto Lounge 3356 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214

This sleek wine and cocktail bar, named after Finnish designer Alvar Aalto, is decked out in mid-century Scandinavian furnishings. It also has one of the best happy hours in Portland, with a menu that has remained constant for years. It centers around three cocktails: a cucumber-lavender gin highball, a spicy vodka-pineapple sour and a bourbon option with pomegranate and lemon. Go during happy hour for discounted libations.

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5. The Knock Back 2315 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

At this Alberta Arts watering hole, cocktails and upscale bar food join in holy culinary matrimony to present a casual yet upscale bar experience. Extra fancy pub grub selections include plays on classics, like pesto scotch eggs and tempeh reubens, which pair harmoniously with all your favorite cocktails and craft drafts.

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6. Bit House Saloon 727 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Even though it opened in 2015, there's an age-old feel to the 150-seat Bit House Saloon, named for how much a beer cost before the US outlawed foreign coins in the 1800s. You'll walk up to a bar on floors made from old bourbon barrels to order a whiskey-focused list of specials. But don't expect service as rusty as the brass accents in the space, this saloon has beed lauded for its mixology since landing on the scene. Stay traditional with an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, or dip into the punch-packing proprietary drink list, featuring sips like the Astro City Cracker Jack (popcorn-washed Applejack, smoked maple syrup, Verjus, soda). The food menu is fit to soak up the drinks, with fried pork rillette or smoked chicken wings playing opener to fried bologna sandwiches or a smoked pork plate.

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7. Clyde Common 1014 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205

Clyde Common's rocking Prohibition era-themed cocktails are crafted by top-notch mixologists, plus this spot also offers European-inspired eats in its casual space Downtown. The trendsetting tavern has communal tables and small plates. Snack on truffle popcorn while you wait for your Heavy Petting cocktail, made with vodka, quinine syrup, lemon peel and grapefruit.

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8. Doug Fir Lounge 830 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

This triple-threat bar, lounge, and restaurant near Buckman stuns with an entirely wood interior (right down to its chandeliers) with a rustic and interior vibe ideal for date nights. The American fare offers modern takes on staples like mac & cheese and bar food like buffalo wings, along with some of the best burgers in the city. The Fir Burger's decked with local cheddar, house-made pickles, and bacon on a soft brioche bun.

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9. The Old Gold 2105 North Killingsworth, Portland, OR 97201

The Old Gold in North Portland is somewhere between a neighborhood bar and a hip cocktail joint. It prides itself on having one of the largest whiskey collections in Portland, and though the stock is always changing, it's full of bourbon, rye, and whiskey from Japan, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland. Custom whiskey flights and pairings are available, as are house-made picklebacks. The bar also serves standout pub fare like smoked gouda grilled cheese, elk burgers, and caramelized onion-topped mac & cheese.

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10. La Moule 2500 SE Clinton St, Portland, OR 97202

There's something sexy about muscles... um, mussels, and that fact is especially apparent at La Moule. Eccentric patterned wallpaper and black leather booths set a seductive, vaguely European mood for four takes on the specialty shellfish, from a creamy iteration with saffron and thyme to a Korean-influenced broth with miso, ginger and kimchi. That's not to say you should stop there: Belgian-inspired favorites like rabbit pie are broken up by specials, like a heaping lobster BLT on buttered Texas toast with thick-cut bacon and caper-mayo skewered by a knife. An impressive Belgian beer selection is notable, but complex cocktails offer just as much reason to drink.