An editor's guide to drinking around town

Thrillist Portland Drink Proper bar guide to PDX

An editor's guide to drinking around town
An editor's guide to drinking around town


Portland takes its drinking seriously, but you kind of have to when you have the most breweries per capita of any city in the world and just happen to be in the center of Oregon wine country. And you're in the midst of a distillery boom. But fear not: PDX editor Andy Kryza is medically trained in the art of showing you exactly where you need to go to see it all go down.

Best Club: OK, so Portland's not exactly Atlanta when it comes to clubbin', but if you hear the word club and think of gatherings of like-minded folks, then White Owl Social Club's for you. Membership includes swag and free drinks, but you don't have to have a membership to enjoy the live bands and occasional Batman-themed dance party.

Hottest Girls: Head to EastBurn's basement on any given weekend and you'll enter a cross-section of Portland hotness, from mousy hipsters to stacked party girls. Challenge them to a game of skee-ball, then make with the innuendo.

Best for Work: At Urban Farmer in The Nines hotel, you can take your craft cocktail to any of several private rooms on the lobby floor to talk shop.

Best Party Scene: There's something magical about karaoke tiki bar The Alibi, where bachelor and bachelorette parties converge over a shared love of Mai Tais, poorly sung Neil Diamond, and free Kalua pork.

Best Drink: Aviary's the kind of place where the barkeeps store special whiskeys just to dole out to regulars, but the cocktails themselves are a marvel. The best of the best? The Broadway & Myrtle, which mixes rum & fernet w/ squid ink, resulting in a jet-black, surprisingly non-fishy flavor explosion.

Best Cocktail Bar: PDX doesn't joke around when it comes to mixology. For old-school cocktails with a kick, hit up Oven & Shaker. For even older-school (like, Happy Days old), there's the Portland Penny Diner, where they crank out chocolate & fernet fountain sodas. And if you want fruit and rum, hit up tiki temple Hale Pele.

Best Brewery: Breakside, with one location in North Portland and another in the South suburbs, does everything right, from a rock-solid IPA, to the chili-infused Aztec. Hell, these people once dumped a bunch of strawberry & rhubarb pies into an aging beer as a goof and it turned out magnificent.

Best Beer Bar: The City of Roses has over 50 breweries that aren't Breakside, and almost every one of them is represented at no-nonsense Brit pub Horse Brass, which also happens to have the best fish and chips this side of London.

Best Local Beer: Did I mention how many breweries we have yet? For a beer that really jumps on that whole "Keep Portland Weird" thing, grab a pint of Hair of the Dog's fruity, oaky Fred.

Best Wine Bar: Fancy yourself an oenophile? Then score a rooftop seat at even-fancier-than-you Noble Rot. For a more rustic experience, there's charcuterie aplenty at SE Wine Collective, where you can watch them actually make their own vino.

Best Distillery: Distilleries are hot on the tail of breweries, and plenty are located in Distillers Row in the SE industrial district. Why settle for one when you can hit up the tasting rooms at House Spirits, New Deal, and Eastside in a single go?

Best Jukebox: Alberta St. dive Binks -- where I practically live -- has an old-school box filled with everything from Sam Cooke to ODB. Regulars even get to make their own mixes and load 'em up for a competition to see who gets the most plays.

Best Outdoor Spot: If you want a crowd, hit up Rontoms' huge patio during one of their free summertime shows. If you want to chill, Bungalo Bar's located inside of an ancient house, and they've filled the backyard with hammocks and fireplaces.

Best Place to Day Drink: Day drinking is a popular activity here, which probably explains why nobody seems to have a job, but if I could only go to one place, it would be Radio Room, where there's an appropriate room for every time of day. Start your morning with breakfast bloodies in the dining room, head to the rooftop patio to brew away the sunlight, then cocktail it up in the bar area at night.

Best Rooftop: Departure has crazy views of the city, partly because it's located smack-dab in the middle of downtown.

Best Weird Karaoke: You haven't lived until you go to weird converted bowling alley The Spare Room and receive live saxophone accompaniment to your rendition of "Careless Whispers".

Most Debauched: Rock club Dante's gets naughty during Sinferno, where cage dancers lose their tops, fire-dancers burn off their fishnets, and you lose/burn all your money buying shots for off-duty strippers.

Best Late-Night Bar Food: Lauded institution Smallwares is the crown jewel of Portland's Asian fusion scene, but its sake-intensive sibling Barwares cooks up an exclusive menu of deliciousness until 230a.

Best Timbers Bar: Hit up Cheerful Bullpen before a game to see Portland turn into Manchester. Do not -- repeat, do not -- mention Seattle in a positive way.

Easiest Place to Get Laid: In Old Town, every other building is a meat market (the rest are soup kitchens). But Jones takes the cake for fueling a glowing, '80s-themed dance frenzy where nobody wants to go home alone. Failing that, you could get weird at Ron Jeremy's Club Sesso for swingers, but, you know... maybe don't.

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1. Hair of the Dog Brewery 61 SE Yamhill St, Portland, OR 97214 (Se Portland)

Hair of the Dog works to obtain local ingredients for all of its brews, which is great for the community. It's also great for the people who drink their beers, with 8 on-tap selections to choose from at their taproom. Growler refills are available for 5 of them, in case you're the kind of person who likes to stock up for the winter.

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2. White Owl Social Club 1305 SE 8th Ave, Portland, OR 97214 (Hawthorne Dist)

A bar, restaurant, and music venue all rolled into one, White Owl Social Club is typically brimming with west-side hipsters, young suburbanites, and... pups! That's right, this Buckman spot is dog-friendly, boasting a Wednesday Yappy Hour, when dog owners are treated to drink specials, their furry friends are treated to, well, treats, and there's even a show-and-tell that brings pooches in from shelters for playtime and possible adoption. No matter when you stop in, you'll find excellent craft cocktails and plenty of scrumptious bites like jalapeño poppers, brussels sprouts, and burgers in both vegan and bacon-cheddar varieties.

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

This huge pizzeria has rows upon rows of seating, serving up artisanal pizzas by the ovenful every day. The menu includes an option to buy a six-pack of beer for the kitchen staff, an option that you might just take part in after tasting your custom 'za. Also, be sure to pair your pie with one of Oven and Shaker's inventive cocktails.

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4. Portland Penny Diner 410 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205 (Downtown)

A New York style do-it-all eatery and bar, the Portland Penny Diner serves breakfast, lunch, cocktails, and of course your end of the night I-think-I' m-going-to-call it-but-I'm-hungry needs.

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5. Hale Pele 2733 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97232 (Lloyd District)

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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6. Noble Rot 1111 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 (Lloyd District)

Offering scenic views of Portland, Noble Rot's a wine bar with a serious vino menu (they've got 300+ bottles in stock from small wineries in the Pacific Northwest and across Europe). Noble Rot's always topping out best of Portland lists, and for good reason; It's a solid date spot with great happy hour specials, and awesome dinner menu, and a great rooftop bar.

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7. SE Wine Collective 2425 SE 35th Pl, Portland, OR 97214 (82nd Ave)

Bringing the authentic, wine country experience to the people of Portland with tastings, events, and a decadent monthly supper club that you should probably hop on ASAP. SE Wine Collective serves up some of the best small plates available in Portland, and they charge a respectable price for their wine growlers.

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8. House Spirits 2025 SE 7th Ave, Portland, OR 97214 (Hawthorne Dist)

A distillery that houses spirit tastings, spirit gurus, and spirit cocktails that'll keep you feelin' good.

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9. New Deal Distillery 1311 SE 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97214 (Se Portland)

New Deal's one of several solid distilleries located in, natch, Distillers Row in the SE industrial district.

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10. Eastside Distilling 1512 SE 7th Ave, Portland, OR 97214 (Se Portland)

Operating out of SE PDX's Distillery Row, Eastside Distilling has been using locally-produced spirits to produce high-quality, hand-crafted cocktails since '09. They've been responsible for launching a number of award-winning labels, including Burnside Bourbon, Portland Potato Vodka, and the recent addition Cherry Bomb Whiskey. No word from Joan Jett on that last one.

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11. Rontoms 600 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 (Buckman)

A covered patio and fire pit bring a cabin-like ambiance to this event venue and bar in East Portland. The rustic and cavernous space is decked out with mid-century modern touches, but peep the outside patio area: you have two (count 'em!) options for wine-ing and lounging. One is covered, has a bar, and serves as a music venue during the summer, and the other is a sprawling wooden deck filled with bamboo.

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12. Bungalo Bar 4205 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227 (N Portland)

In a laid-back Mississippi Ave house, Bungalo Bar serves up craft cocktails, burgers, and beers from a rotating tap selection into the wee hours of the night.

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13. Radio Room 1101 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211 (Ne Portland)

Part diner, part bar, part rooftop lounge, the triple-threat Radio Room pours stiff drinks from sunup to sundown, plus it serves up an endless breakfast to go along with the endless cast of characters who call it home.

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14. Departure Restaurant & Lounge 525 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97204 (Downtown)

Located in the Nines Hotel, The Departure serves authentic pan-Asian cuisine -- such as sushi, dim sum, and kushiyaki, along with vegan and gluten-free items-- and creative cocktails in a scenic, double balconied setting with a great outdoor seating area and sweeping views of downtown PDX. Try the Tasho Macho, the venue's longest-surviving drink, which is an Asian fusion take on the Moscow mule.

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15. Spare Room Restaurant & Lounge 4830 NE 42nd Ave, Portland, OR 98218

Spare Room is a Portland dive in a converted bowling alley with two distinct bars and plenty of mystery shots to imbibe as you bask in saxophone tunes. Also available is standard American fare (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), along with daily food specials, mixed drinks, and frequent live music.

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16. Dante's 350 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209 (Downtown)

This concert venue and club Downtown features a rotating array of shows plus killer dance parties and drinks.

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17. Smallwares 4605 NE Fremont, Portland, OR 97213 (Beaumont Wilshire)

Smallwares serves inauthentic Asian cuisine one small plate at a time. Inauthentic as in take your expectations and turn them on its head. With fare like chicken lollipops and pork skin ragu, there's no better place to get your weird bar food on. For a slight return to normalcy, hit the bar for your choice cocktails, beer, and wine.

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18. The Cheerful Bullpen 1730 SW Taylor St, Portland, OR 97205 (Goose Hollow)

A cozy sports bar that's one of the best places in Portland to watch a soccer match.

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19. Jones 107 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209 (Old Townchina Town)

At Jones, you can either get your groove on or your grub on, but either way you're in for a treat. This 80's and 90's themed establishment pours on the nostalgia with vintage arcade games, classic memorabilia and period-appropriate jams played by local and national DJs. Speaking of pouring, there's also a menu of handcrafted cocktails for you to quaff in between songs.

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20. The Alibi Restaurant & Lounge 4024 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97227 (Overlook)

There's something magical about The Alibi, a karaoke tiki bar in Overlook where bachelor and bachelorette parties converge over a shared love of Mai Tais, poorly sung Neil Diamond, and free Kalua pork. Guests have been partaking in the frivolity since hop on the band wagon (or conga line), house-made infusion in hand

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21. Horse Brass Pub 4534 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215 (Belmont)

The City of Roses has over 75 breweries that aren't Breakside, and almost every one of them is represented at no-nonsense Brit pub Horse Brass. This place has been serving up craft beer since 1976 (before it was cool) and has never not been a great place to knock back a few. It’s the best British pub outside of Britain, right down to the halibut fish & chips.

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22. EastBurn 1800 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 (Kerns)

With casual dining and a skiball-intensive beer ball downstairs -- plus swinging hammock chairs everywhere and swinging benches at its courtyard tables -- EastBurn is a neighborhood mainstay. There’s also full dinner service outside, making this bar close to being a restaurant.