Food & Drink

The Best Cocktails in Portland Right Now

Published On 10/14/2015 Published On 10/14/2015
Andy Kryza/Thrillist
Kachka
Kari Young
Flickr/Neil Conway
Laurelhurst Market
Little Bird Bistro
John Valls
Courtesy of Oven and Shaker
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1. Kachka 720 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214

This Russian eatery is brought to you by the team behind Oven & Shaker. Lots of knickknacks litter the area while lace curtains allow just enough natural light in to not feel dark. The menu has plenty of hearty fare, and of course, vodka.

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

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. Rum Club 720 SE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97206 (Buckman)

This place, as you might've guessed if you saw the name, is all about the rum. They've got nine specialty rum-centric cocktails, but if rum's not your thing there's always the nine other cocktails mixed with different liquors. The menu of pub grub features classics such as Braised Short Ribs and the Shrimp Cocktail. The casual vibe makes Rum Club a "dive cocktail bar," if such a thing exists.

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4. Bit House Saloon 727 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214 (Buckman)

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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5. Pépé le Moko 407 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97205 (Downtown)

Star bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler helms this speakeasy. In typical fashion, the door is mostly unmarked, but you’ll know where to go once inside, as it's right down the stairs and underneath Morgenthaler’s other famous bar, Clyde Common. Within this dark haunt you’ll find the best Long Island you’ve ever had, plus creative bar bites like Hawaiian spiced peanuts.

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6. Ava Gene's 3377 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202 (Se Portland)

You'd expect a restaurant by Stumptown Coffee Roasters founder to serve good coffee, but Ava Gene's also excels at vegetable-focused, Roman-inspired New American fare. The chef, Joshua McFadden, honed his green thumb during years spent working at Maine's Season Farm, and puts his experience to use in elemental dishes that are packed with flavor, from carrot and beef slaw to roasted cauliflower with chili and anchovies. That's not to say meat doesn't sing here: duck leg is sweetened with pomegranate, and buttery porterhouse steak is served with mussels. The menu is "aggressively seasonal," so while you can't count of it being the same during every visit, you can be sure it will be fresh, with a different farm or producer highlighted on that day's list. Family-style meals, which the chef will craft based on the harvest, are worth splurging for.

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7. Laurelhurst Market 3155 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

Whether vegetarian or carnivore, Laurelhurst Market is bound to have a dish you'll love. The restaurant and butcher shop works with local farmers to provide patrons with the best Portland has to offer, which includes the restaurant's French fries. Laurenhurst also mixes incredible cocktails, so be sure to indulge in the variety of creative libations.

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8. Aviary 1733 NE Alberta, Portland, OR 97211 (Alberta Arts Dist)

On the off, off chance that the bird ISN'T the word, it's probably a good bet that this restaurant/bar is. Aviary's got a great selection of cocktails and beers for you to wet your beak, and the food menu's organic, locally sourced ingredients will leave you questioning why you've been choking down millet seed all your life. Ok, no more puns, we promise!

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9. Little Bird 219 SW 6th Avenue, Portland, OR 97204 (Downtown)

From the accolade-bagging dudes behind Le Pigeon, Little Bird plays to the strengths of their Eastside bistro with a simple menu of gourmet-level poultry and seafood dishes like chicken-fried trout and seared duck breast at super affordable prices. The swanky bi-level restaurant stays open until midnight, making it an ideal spot to camp out on the weekends with a large glass of vintage or valley wine or a craft cocktail.

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10. Mediterranean Exploration Company 333 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

Think orzo, lentils, eggplant and hummus. The plates are smaller so get a few and share, which is easy to do once you start in on the cocktail list that rarely disappoints.

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11. Imperial 410 SW Broadway, Portland, OR (82nd Ave)

Imperial restaurant, located in the historic Hotel Lucia, is owned and operated by Chef extraordinaire Vitaly Paley. This spot has a modern bright interior, and all the food is dishes made with local ingredients. The menu's combination of new and traditional American cuisine can be paired with any of Imperial's fine wines, specialty cocktails or draft and bottled beers.

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12. Rookery 1331 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 (Sw Portland)

Entering The Rookery Bar, housed in the historic 1883 Ladd Carriage house right above British tavern Raven & Rose, feels like stepping into an old boys' club. It's all too easy to assume a "dandy chap" pose when you're sitting sitting fireside in an armchair, sinking further in with every sip from your Manhattan. Any of the classic cocktails poured here will get you in the mood, really, and the proprietary concoctions are given so much care, you'd mistake them for old standards (try Caroline's Fancy: reposado tequila, curacao, cardamom bitters). The kitchen nods to Irish and English inspirations, with fish & chips, shepherd's pie and London broil feeding tipplers under the vaulted ceilings. Stir in some regular live Irish folk music, a bold green billiards table, and a rare liquor selection and the entire experience is intoxicating.

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13. Oven and Shaker 1134 NW Everette, Portland, OR 97214 (Pearl District)

Pizza wouldn't be worth much — let alone existent — without either an oven or seasoning shakers, and we're just thankful that four-time-James-Beard-nominated chef Cathy Whim's Oven & Shaker has both. The pies pulled from her wood-fired oven at this sleek Pearl District dining room are the real deal: creative topping combinations like salumi and honey on thin-but-still-chewy dough keep tables full. Italian street foods, from fried mozzarella to arancini balls, round out the meal. Italian whites and reds are sprinkled with local vintages, but the true stars are the cocktail options like the maple syrup- and bell pepper juice-infused anise vodka sip, Pepper Smash #2. But you don't have to be the only one drinking: let it be known that there's a special option on the menu where you can "buy the kitchen a six-pack." You should do it.

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14. Bunk Bar 1028 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97124 (Buckman)

Draft beers, imported cans, and house drinks like the Iceberg (a pint of beer topped with a shot of frozen Marg), pair superbly with the mouth-watering sandwich creations perfected by the guys at Bunk. Expect varied creations like the braised lamb with house chorizo or roast beef sandwich with caramelized onions.