Craft Cocktails in PDX
There has been a cocktail renaissance spreading through the country. Two years ago when I was in Portland for the first time, I found it fascinating a bar would make its own tonic. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as cocktaily-cocktailian back then and found Teardrop Lounge somewhat pretentious. Now of course having had many, many cocktails, I appreciate the effort in making tonics, bitters, etc. I’m glad to see Teardrop Lounge still one of the favorite cocktail bars in PDX. We arrived after dinner and found some seats but it quickly became packed and we had a drink before heading off to our next stop.
Carina had the Belle du Jour (Belle de Brillet pear cognac, Cointreau, Benedictine, lemon, hellfire bitters, smoked pear chip) which she liked. The pear chip was probably the most fascinating part. Or maybe it was the hellfire bitters. I had the Last Gloaming (Germain-Robin Fine Alambic brandy, Pineau de Charentes blanc, Yellow Chartreuse, Elaisir M.P. Roux, Peychaud’s bitters). I liked that they had a glossary of terms with the drinks menu or otherwise I would have no idea what half the things were in my cocktail.
1015 Northwest Everett St., Portland, OR 97209
Next up was Clyde Common which was really packed when we stopped in. Oh sure the dining tables were mostly empty but we were cocktailing it. We found a barstool to share between the two of us, wedged in with lot of Brits and tried to have a good time. I had heard Clyde Common was doing aged cocktails. We decided to order one and one from their regular menu. Carina ordered the B.M.O.C. (bourbon, raw ginger syrup, Angostura bitters, soda water) which was spicy and ginger-y as hell. She liked it since she was trying to get over a tickle in her throat. I had the Remember the Maine which tasted very much like a mellow Manhattan.
I had read they aged the drinks in whiskey barrels and generally you didn’t age whiskey cocktails (too much of a good thing). I would have loved to talk to the bartender about it but the Brits (or one in particular) was so drunk, I feared accidents would soon happen so we moved to mingle in the middle of the bar.
We agreed that this was the sort of place we would have liked to come earlier in the night before it got douchey.
1014 SW Stark St., Portland, OR 97205
On our first day in PDX, we had seen a sign for Blue Hour but could not actually spot it. Eventually we just went to happy hour at Deschutes Brewery. When we set off the next night, we decided to seek it out again and after circling the block for a few minutes, we realized Blue Hour was the restaurant we kept seeing. It has no signage but it’s next to an art gallery (which is currently featuring a giant beaver).
Carina had another ginger-y drink, the Rum Buck (Appleton’s VX Jamaican rum, lemon and cock n bull ginger beer) while I tried out the poetically named, Wind and the Rain (Old Overholt rye, Averna, Luxardo amaretto, old fashioned bitters and garnished with orange peel). I appreciated this drink for it was certainly warming on a cold and windy rainy night.
250 Northwest 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97209-2953
Before our dinner at Le Pigeon, we stopped at nearby Doug Fir for a cocktail by their fireplace. I immediately zeroed in on the Buffalo Trace but wondered if the sour would be too much. It wasn’t. But I was surprised by the giant pint glass it was served in. Good thing we had some time to kill. Carina’s Dark and Stormy was perfect.
830 East Burnside St., Portland, OR 97214
While chatting with Adam Robinson of Park Kitchen about PDX’s craft cocktail bars, he mentioned we should seek out Central which just opened two months ago. We were to look for a crepes sign (Perierra Creperie). As it turned out it was a very generic self-supporting stand with the crepes sign…so when not in business, that sign disappears. Ah, it’s supposed to be a little hard to find.
Described as Portland’s first speakeasy (well, assuming the first since Prohibition), you walk in and are stopped by velvet curtains. A host then leads you in. We opted to sit at the bar where I could watch Jacob work with glass barware and count their Amaros. On this night, we knew after our first drink we weren’t going to another bar so we decided to have a few (just to get a true idea of the cocktails, of course). Carina started with the Whiskey Sour and I had Work in Progress (Bols Genever, St. Germain, Fernet, orange bitters). It was magic. I loved this drink!
Next, Jacob recommended the Sweetie Pie (Clement VSOP, apple cider, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, Angostura bitters). It was a good drink but I liked the Work in Progress better. Carina had the Pear & Equal (pear infused Plymouth, Noilly Prat, champagne, lemon twist).
For my final drink, I asked for a Bartender’s Choice and told him I liked aromatic bourbon drinks. He gave me one with bourbon, green chartreuse, Benedictine and bitters. It was really good and a nice way to end the night.
220 SW Ankeny, Portland, OR 97204