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Two fan-like lights flank the bar at Juliett at Portland International Airport.
The bar at Juliett.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX

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Inside Juliett, PDX’s Aviation-Themed Bar With Midcentury Vibes

With portraits of female aviators and beers named for historic pilots, Juliett embraces and riffs on the idea of the airport bar

In the liminal space between everyday life and a vacation or trip, the airport bar offers respite in the form of a martini and people-watching. It is the pit stop for the business traveler, the college kid preparing to return home, the knockoff Eat-Pray-Love globetrotter with a one-way ticket. The drinks can be expensive and the food mediocre, but it’s not really about the menu — it’s about the pause before some big next, a deep breath before a jump.

Portland International Airport (PDX), however, isn’t the average layover stop; it’s often where a trip begins or ends, and the people behind it have made the airport a sliver of Portland for those passing through. The restaurants, bars, and cafes inside the airport are often samplings of Oregon food and drink found outside the terminal: Stumptown pours nitro cold brew, Lardo hawks Italian subs, Westward Whiskey doles out samples of single-malt. So when two notable Portland restaurant groups — Lightning Bar Collective (the Bye & Bye, Victoria) and Chefstable (St. Jack, Lardo) — decided to open a bar at PDX, they wanted to do something original, something that captures the charm of the airport bar but also fine-tunes it.

Juliett, which opens in Concourse E on March 19, will offer cocktails developed by Lightning Bar Collective’s Adam Ohlsson, beers made specifically for the bar from the new Fracture Brewing, and Oregon wines from Coopers Hall, all in a space designed to honor women in aviation.

Portraits of Berta Moraleda, Bessie Coleman, Micky Axton and Hazel Ying Lee at Juliett at PDX.
A line of portraits of female pilots at Juliett.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX

Approaching Juliett, the eye immediately hits the circular bar at the center of the space, facing the windows at the end of the concourse. Small, brassy lamps stud the surface of the bar, but they might be overshadowed by the five custom light fixtures around the space, fanning out like the fronds of a sago palm. Also found at the bar: a line of portraits featuring famous aviators, specifically Berta Moraleda, Bessie Coleman, Micky Axton, and Hazel Ying Lee. All the portraits, painted by Sara Radovanovitch, are accompanied by brief descriptions of the pilots they feature, as well as their accomplishments.

Complementing the portraits around the space, Fracture’s six beers for Juliett are all named for historic women in aviation: The Night Witch coffee milk stout is a reference to the Soviet Air Forces’s 588th Night Bomber Regiment in World War II, which the Nazis nicknamed the “nachthexen” (or night witches). The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) West Coast IPA alludes to the organization of the same name, which tested aircrafts and trained pilots during World War II. The Amelia Pilsner is, of course, an homage to Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic alone.

When designing the cocktails for the bar, Ohlsson specifically played off the bar’s midcentury aesthetics, with nods to 20th century standards like Hanky Pankys, Hotel Nacionals, and Aviations, naturally. Paired with those drinks are cocktails often found in Latin America and the tiki tradition: a take on a Penicillin with tequila and mezcal, drinks made with Velvet Falernum and pineapple juice. They’re meant to evoke images of sunny vacation destinations — ideally, where the average visitor is headed next.

Take a look inside Juliett below:

Juliett’s circular bar faces the windows at PDX.
The bar at Juliett, which looks out onto the tarmac at PDX.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX
The bar at Juliett, which butts up against the seating at PDX.
Juliett’s position, at the end of Concourse E, is meant to feel open-concept with the airport itself.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX
A ruby red cocktail sits in a rocks glass at Juliett.
The Brave Bess combines Ev Williams, lemon, Noir de Bourgogne, and vanilla syrup, topped with a lemon.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX
A neon green cocktail at Juliett.
The W.A.S.P. cocktail, made with Pueblo Viejo Blanco tequila, lime juice, and cucumber agave.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX
A bartender pours Creme de Violette over a spoon into a coupe glass.
A bartender prepares an Aviation at Juliett.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX
A pale yellow and violet cocktail in a coupe glass at Juliett.
Juliett’s Aviation, a combination of New Amsterdam gin, Luxardo, lemon, simple syrup, and Creme de Violette.
Molly J. Smith/EPDX
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