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A picture of a Hotel Nacional daiquiri at Palomar, which arrives up, in a coupe glass, with a cherry
A cocktail at Palomar
Dina Avila/EPDX

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Drinking in Portland During the Coronavirus Pandemic

How the city’s beverage industry adapted during one of its most challenging years

Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Tangled between two rivers, and consistently grey with slow, drizzly rain, Portland is a drinker’s town. It sits between two lauded wine regions, with bines of hops growing to the south, traveling north to the city’s breweries for fresh hop ales and IPAs. Wild, unfiltered water drips down from the Bull Run Watershed, shockingly pristine, and serves as the foundation for some of the city’s celebrated cups of coffee. Distilleries, breweries, and urban wineries dot the city, found within clusters of bars and restaurants. Finding a good cocktail, shot of espresso, glass of wine, pint of beer — that isn’t hard in Portland.

At least, that was the case, until recently: Coronavirus barged through the city’s restaurant and bar scene, knocking down iconic spots like Shift Drinks and neighborhood haunts like Liberty Glass. Even the tea shops weren’t safe: Brew Dr., formerly known as Townshend’s Tea, is slowly closing all of its teahouses, in favor of wholesale kombucha. Bartenders went on unemployment for months — if they could even get it. Bar owners hunkered down, pulling together some sort of food takeout, transforming their wine bars into bottle shops, and fighting to sell cocktails to-go.

For Portland drinkers, beverage — alcoholic or not — is a foundational part of the city’s culture. Coffee shops and bars are meeting grounds, makeshift office spaces, community centers. Some people have returned to those spaces, sipping Old Fashioneds under covered patios. Others are waiting, ordering coffee beans online. Regardless, the city’s beverage industry is holding on — but who knows how long that will last.

Below, we explore the state of Portland’s beverage industry during one of its most challenging years yet, and tell you where to go if you’re looking for something good to drink — turns out, there’s plenty out there, even now.

Various mason jars with red, purple, and orange liquids sit on a white marble countertop with limes
To-go cocktails from Rally Pizza in Vancouver, Washington, where to-go cocktails are legal
Rally Pizza/Official

The Bar Industry’s Fight to Legalize To-Go Cocktails

Oregon Legislators Pass Bill to Allow To-Go Cocktail Sales from Restaurants
For Some Portland Bar Owners, To-Go Cocktail Legislation Feels Like Too Little, Too Late
Oregon’s Fight for To-Go Cocktails, Explained
If Oregon Wants to Keep Its Bars Alive, It Needs to Legalize Takeout Cocktails
What the Latest Coronavirus-Related Regulations Mean for Oregon’s Bars and Restaurants

The white marble bar of Bar Diane is lined with bottles of wine
Bar Diane’s “bottle shop” inside the bar
Bar Diane / Official

How Bars Have Adapted

Portland’s Wine Bars Morphed Into Makeshift Bottle Shops. Will They Change Back?
Reel M Inn Has Held On For Decades. Now, It’s On Hiatus. This Is What Makes It Portland’s Favorite Dive Bar.
With Onsite Dining Off the Table, Shine Distillery Is Creating a Drag-Themed Drive-Thru
How Teardrop Lounge Tried to Create the Safest Indoor Bar in Portland
Instead of Opening Inside, Botanist Created a New Rooftop Bar and Restaurant Hub
While the Bar Next Door Remains Closed, a Cocktail Pop-Up Emerges in an Alleyway
A Southwest Portland Karaoke Bar Transforms into a Korean Restaurant to Survive

A glass of whisky sits on a wooden table outside Scotch Lodge
Whiskey at Scotch Lodge
Scotch Lodge / Official

Where to Drink Now

13 Portland Bar Patios Where You Can Imbibe Outside
16 Portland Bars and Restaurants Now Offering Cocktails To-Go
An Essential Guide to Portland’s Breweries
Sip Coffee at These 12 Portland Roasters and Cafes
The Happy Hours That Can Still Be Found in Portland
20 Portland Bar Patios for Socially Distanced Imbibing
Where to Find Takeout Cocktails in Vancouver

Portland Pop-Ups to Watch, December 2023

Portland Restaurant Openings

A Guide to Portland’s Bar, Restaurant, and Food Cart Openings

Eater Awards

Here Are 2023’s Eater Award Winners for Portland