Food & Drink

Portland's Best Whiskey Bars

Updated On 05/09/2017 at 05:36PM EST Updated On 05/09/2017 at 05:36PM EST
portland's best whiskey bars
Raven & Rose
The Old Gold

The Old Gold

Overlook

The Old Gold is tucked into the burgeoning Overlook neighborhood, conveniently just off of the MAX line. It’s something between a neighborhood bar and a hip cocktail joint, with whiskey classes, customizable flights, and a cocktail list focused on the brown stuff. With all of this you wouldn’t need a great food menu, but the Old Gold provides with an impressive selection of sandwiches, including some great veggie ones. If the spot is underrated, it’s probably because the neighborhood wants it that way.

The Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library and the Green Room

Downtown

The Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library isn’t just the best whiskey bar in Portland, it’s one of the best whiskey bars in the country. It has an unbelievable selection, from (relatively) cheap well bourbons to Scotch so expensive you buy it just to prove you can. It has sexy, high-back tufted leather chairs, gorgeous rugs over hardwood floors, exposed brick, chandeliers, fireplaces, and well-dressed whiskey librarians pouring your whisk{e}y table-side from bar carts. You might find yourself waiting a few hours to get in, but now there’s The Green Room, a downstairs sister bar to grab a drink in while you wait to get, well, into the main bar... for a drink.

Courtney DeKorte

Paydirt

Kerns

“We have too much whiskey” is the motto of Paydirt, the hip new bar in the center of the hip new Zipper Building, a collective of restaurants, cafes, and a nail salon. Indeed, they do have too much whiskey, and you can grab a decently priced, heavily poured shot and a tallboy of some domestic lager on the cheap during happy hour. If you get tired of whiskey you can avail yourself to some champagne or a bucket of the Champagne of Beers, quickly delivered to your table with a single call from the bar’s phone booth. Or just get some Fernet on tap.

Brooklyn Park Pub

Brooklyn

From the outside, it looks like a dive bar. On the inside it looks... like a dive bar. But scrawled in chalk on one wall is a large whiskey list, some of which are circled -- these are for the whiskey club only. To get into the whiskey club, you have to try 30 different whiskies, and a certain amount must come from each "family" (bourbon, scotch, etc.). Then and only then will you have access to the club list, and all other whiskeys are permanently a $1 off for you. Just don’t expect any fancy ice or craft cocktails.

Kenji Mizumori

Pope House Bourbon Lounge

Alphabet District

A quaint bar set in an old Victorian house in the beautiful Alphabet District, Pope House lives up to its name: in addition to the Bourbon 101 classes that celebrate and elucidate on the subject of bourbon, the bar offers the Bourbon Derby, a list similar to Brooklyn Park’s, but 50 bourbons long. Once you reach the Finish Line, you receive a personalized Lucky Horseshoe on the Wall of Fame. Pope House also has a number of whiskey flights and a happy hour with $4 select whiskeys and $6 whiskey cocktails, perfect for sipping on the multi-tiered front patio during the summer months.

Swank & Swine

Swank & Swine

Downtown

If you’re coming in from out of town, or just want a decent spot to drink Downtown, Portland has some excellent hotel bars, including Swine Bar, part of the Swank & Swine duo in the Paramount Hotel. Some 250 whiskeys line the shelves, and if you drink enough, you’ll be entered into the Whole Hog Whiskey Club: five each of bourbon, rye, and Scotch, plus fifteen others gets you a commemorative glass and 10% off all whiskey for life. Then just drink a mere 20 more of your choice, and you’ll get 15% off everything at Swank & Swine. For life. As if you needed an excuse to try 50 different whiskeys.

Rachelle Hacmac

Raven & Rose/The Rookery

South Park Blocks

Raven & Rose and the Rookery Bar take classic cocktails very seriously; while there are some fantastic original cocktails on the bar menu, it’s the standards that stand out. That’s because the staff selects single-barrel spirits specifically for each individual drink. This means when you order a Sazerac or a mint julep, you’re getting the best possible whiskey for the cocktail. It also means you won’t mind that you just dropped $15 on a Manhattan, but rather, are tempted to get a second, and possibly a third.

Pinky’s Bar Nowhere

Overlook

Pinky’s Bar Nowhere was once a closely guarded secret by the North Portland scene, but, like any good spot in town, it was shamelessly dug up and revealed by food and drink journalists. Now everyone knows about this great neighborhood pizza spot and its absurd collection of whiskey, which includes some incredibly rare Scotch and Japanese bottles. It’s also one of the only bars in town that carries a collection of Taiwanese whisky, which has already replaced Japanese as the “cool new whisky you haven’t had yet.” While you’re here, take a chance and the roll the dice on a new whiskey. Literally: Set a price range and roll some dice for a random whiskey. You might get something priced more than you paid, and you won’t get anything under.

Loyal Legion

Loyal Legion

Buckman

Ever since the Loyal Legion brought in Tommy Klus, the original curator of the Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library, to revamp its whiskey selection, it now sports one of the best and most affordable collections in town -- especially for Scotch, Irish, and Japanese varieties. Spirits are all available as a full pour or a half, which is a great way to sample some that are normally out of reach. Plus, there’s always a discounted daily whiskey, perfect for a cheap-but-good boilermaker.

Highland Stillhouse

Oregon City

You’ll have to go a little ways out of Portland, as the Highland Stillhouse is down in Oregon City, but it’ll be worth the drive. The cozy pub serves Scottish-inspired fare, including bangers & mash and fish & chips, as well as a full Scottish breakfast on Sundays. But the real reason to come here is the single-malt selection, which is boasted as being the largest in the Portland area, and it’s hard to argue with that. There’s a massive display, but we’re pretty sure the owner has some stashed for special guests. Be sure you have a safe way to get back to the city, if that’s where you’re coming from.