The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in Portland

It may seem unlikely, but Portland’s craft cocktail bar scene has been helping to innovate a new era of West Coast style cocktails since the mid-aughts. But it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound when taking a closer look at the evolution of the city’s restaurant landscape, which has increasingly garnered James Beard Awards and international recognition from the culinary community. In Portland, local, seasonal ingredients and an inherent inclination toward the DIY ethos reign supreme (But is it local? truly is a mantra here). So, while some cities’ cocktail bars have taken their cues from New York and San Francisco—slowly rediscovering the classics, swapping in quality ingredients and trying out obscure whiskies—Portland went straight for craft spirits, local ingredients and housemade syrups right out of the gate. Here are just a few of the excellent craft cocktail bars defining the city’s modern scene.

  • 1

    Angel Face

    On the surface Angel Face appears simple and unassuming; there is no cocktail menu and the short list of French bar snacks contains zero description. But this quiet little bar with its pink wallpaper and quirky flower arrangements, has a nuanced way with drinks. The white marble horseshoe bar displays spirits bottles in overhead racks while a few excellent wines—many of which are French and natural—hide behind the counter (sister restaurant Navarre next door excels in the wine department). And despite the lack of a drink menu, the bartenders know the classics and deploy them in delicate glassware with subtle flourishes.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • natural wine
    • bar food
  • 2

    Driftwood Room

    The swanky Driftwood Room, located off the lobby of the Hotel deLuxe, is a 1950s-era lounge that hasn’t changed all that much in the last 60 years. The mid-century décor is so evocative that it’s easy to imagine crowds from another century smoking and tossing back Martinis at the massive leather stools lining the wavy bar. Staggered wood paneling—both overhead and along the curving walls—remind you that you’re in Portland while the kitschy—yet well-crafted—drinks (Elizabeth Taylor, Sino Evil, Sideburn) bring you back into the modern age. To travel back, order a Manhattan or a Martini, both of which are tops.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
  • 3

    Expatriate

    Expatriate's DNA isn't entirely obvious at first glance. There’s a gilded Asian mantle that encases shelves of spirits behind the bar, red vintage record players, heavy scarlet drapes and a cocktail menu that takes inspiration from Hawaii, Alaska and the Caribbean. But while the plush interior may seem a bit confused, the drinks are anything but. Built by Pomeroy’s husband Kyle Linden Webster, the cocktail list works in bold strokes with simple, classic formulas that allow ingredients like housemade ginger syrup, raspberry gomme and “foreign cane sugar” to speak for themselves.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • good wine
  • 4

    Hale Pele

    Flaming lime shells? Check. Bamboo hut rafters? Check. Hulking carved tiki gods? Check. Simulated rainstorms? Check. The creation of cocktail enthusiast Blair Reynolds, Hale Pele is an unlikely oasis in a weird, suburban sector of cloudy Portland. Home to all of the tiki kitsch one could ever wish for—there are orchids, Polynesian lanterns and the occasional lei—alongside a long list of surprisingly balanced tropical drinks executed by skilled bartenders, this is the place to escape those soggy winters.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • tiki
    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 5

    Interurban

    There is zero pretension at Interurban, a barebones gastropub-cum-cocktail-bar in North Portland. Here it’s all classic cocktails all the time. One long bar, a big outdoors space and handful of tables make this warm, tavern-like room a cozy background to any neighborhood gathering or weekend brunch. A long list of whiskey and craft beer make for a mixed crowd, and for the young at heart a constantly rotating Jell-O shot—based on a classic drink, course—is always available.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • craft beer
    • bar food
    • brunch
    • outdoor / patio
  • 6

    Jackknife

    Located off the lobby of the Sentinel, Jackknife's massive wraparound bar, lounge-y, overstuffed furniture and glowing art deco lamps don't necessarily feel very Portland, but it’s charming in the escapist hotel bar kind of way. The beverage program was created by the team behind The Bye and Bye, Dig a Pony and The Sweet Hereafter and carries the same devil-may-care attitude, merging casual hipsterdom with the sleek hotel aesthetic. The cocktail menu offers a collision of kitschy (but chug-able) drinks like the Miami Vice (a cross between a Piña Colada and a strawberry Daiquiri) and classics like the Jack Rose and ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • hotel bar
  • 7

    Multnomah Whiskey Library

    As the name indicates, Multnomah Whiskey Library is less a cocktail bar and more a whiskey den—or, more accurately, a world dreamed up by a country club-going grandfather with an affection for dark leather and manly portraiture. Reservations here are mandatory (you must be a member to make one, or hope for a walk-in opening), but if you manage to make it past the bouncer, the experience is unparalleled. The “library” is complete with over 1500 bottles of whisk(e)y fetched by servers who scale rolling library ladders and stroll from table-to-table with whiskey carts. A private tasting room takes the exclusivity to the ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • lots of whiskey
    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
    • full menu
    • bar food
  • 8

    Pépé le Moko

    Around the corner from Clyde Common, Portland's restaurant-cum-cocktail bar mainstay, is Pépé le Moko, a small, dark, jazz-filled subterranean cocktail joint helmed by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Overhead, a curved ceiling evokes the architecture of a train car or a boat, drawing the eye downward to the bartender dumping a bright green Grasshopper into a soda fountain glass. The drinks here lean heavily on rejiggered midcentury classics that went the way of the dodo when craft cocktails came to town. Expect Long Island Iced Teas and Espresso Martinis alongside "bar snacks" like oysters, braised octopus and bone marrow crostini.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • oysters / raw bar
    • bar food
  • 9

    The Rookery Bar at Raven and Rose

    Up in the eaves of an old English Stick-style house in Southwest Portland is the Rookery, a funny little bar with a quaint musty quality reminiscent of an old ski lodge (it was once the carriage house for merchant William Ladd’s estate in the late-18th century). Manned by longtime Portland bartender David Shenaut, the bar excels at classic cocktails and riffs thereof, but it also takes a fervent interest in whiskey and apple brandy (they acquired their own private barrel stock). There are menus dedicated to each spirit category and, if you inquire, an earful of spirits knowledge will be enthusiastically delivered.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • live music
    • lots of whiskey
  • 10

    Rum Club

    One of Portland’s first spirit-focused bars, the Rum Club's cocktail menu devotes half of its real estate to rum drinks—some of which are obscure revivals, others, like the Daiquiri and Mai Tai, are beloved house staples—while the rest jumps around the globe to features spirits genever and whiskey, as well as amari. Bartenders are center stage here at the horseshoe-shaped bar, and though the bar’s motives are geeky, the service is laid-back.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • lots of rum
  • 11

    Teardrop Lounge

    Perhaps Portland’s most renowned cocktail bar, Teardrop Lounge is serious about how they present their drinks, even going so far as to include a glossary for those who aren’t familiar with, say, verjus, TDL Amer or oleo-saccharum. The veritable pantry behind the bar is full of house syrups, shrubs and tinctures that range from pumpkin cordial to homemade orgeat. Owing to its mid-aughts aesthetic and vested bartenders, the bar can feel a bit dated, but the cocktails—if occasionally heady in concept—remain both relevant and playful.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food

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