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Bartenders Reveal Their Under-the-Radar Drinking Spots

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Photo of Sidecar 11 courtesy Facebook

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Every week, Eater enlists one of Portland's local food-industry players to share their under-the-radar recommendations in our "Dining Confidential" feature. To celebrate Cocktail Week 2013, we asked some of Portland's top bartenders to reveal their under-the-radar drinking spots — whether a neighborhood dive, an unsung restaurant bar, or drinking den that deserves a little more attention. Here now, the 10 places that make up Portland's Cocktail Confidential crawl:


· All Dining Confidential Coverage [Eater PDX]
· All Cocktail Week 2013 Coverage [Eater PDX]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Sidecar 11

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4039 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR 97227
(503) 208-3798
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Former Kask bartender Nathan Gerdes (who's now a portfolio manager for Bacardi) reveals an insider's tip about N. Mississippi spot Sidecar 11: Keep an eye out for its special bottle releases. "The bar manager Aaron Howard collects rare and vintage bottles, sometimes dating back to Prohibition," Gerdes says. "[He] pops them open on special dates so that everyone can all enjoy it together." [Photo: Facebook]

2. The Box Social

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3971 N. Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
(503) 288-1111
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The Driftwood Room's Mike Robertson presides over one of Portland's sexiest rooms, so perhaps it's no surprise he recommends another romantic little spot: N. Williams' Box Social. "The Dirty Little Thief is one of my favorite cocktails," Robertson says. "It's got habanero spiced tequila, sage, caramelized pineapple, and lime." Robertson also makes a few food-menu recs: Order up the black-and-bleu salad, the "Nibble Plate," and the roasted cauliflower dip, which Robertson describes as "creamy deliciousness." [Photo: Facebook]

3. Dots

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2521 SE Clinton St
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 235-0203

When first asked about his favorite spot, Nostrana's Douglas Derrick was torn between a favorite and what's truly an unacknowledged gem: "Xico is a good answer for surprisingly good cocktails, but it is not under-the-radar." So Derrick advocates for a longtime Clinton spot, Dot's Cafe, which he says still retains its charm even after recently changing hands. "[Dot's has] great drinks for dive standards, good food and actual service. With those things in line, its a gem of a dive 'til last call. It is so great to have a long-term bar like that get some fresh life." [Photo: Foursquare]

4. Bar Avignon

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2138 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202

SE Division's Bar Avignon is perhaps best known for its wine list and French-comfort food menu, but Aviary's Ross Hunsinger says its cocktails are criminally undersung. "I think innovation and development are incredible traits for a restaurant to embody, and Bar Avignon does that: But in an old-fashioned way that focuses more developing and innovating on the nuances of what it means to be a good neighborhood restaurant," Hunsinger says. The recommended menu: "Order Champagne and oysters first, a bottle with your meal and negronis to finish. I guarantee you that it will be honest and delicious." [Photo: Avila/EPDX]

5. Free House Bar

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1328 NE Fremont
Portland, OR
(503) 946-8161
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The Hop & Vine's Jacob Grier gives high praise to NE Fremont's neighborhood spot Free House, which he says is "one my favorite places in town for a drink. Pro-tip: "If Ansel Vickery is working, I'll often just get whatever he feels like making. On the menu, as a sucker for aquavit cocktails I really like the Froghair, made with aquavit and their house Swedish punch, lemon, and bitters." [Photo: Foursquare]

6. Jake's Famous Crawfish

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401 SW 12th Ave
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 226-1419
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Tommy Klus, of the Multnomah Whiskey Library, says that because of his crazy work schedule, he rarely goes out. But he does admit to an occasional mid-afternoon pick-me-up, at the nearby Jake's. "Nothing wrong with a midday tipple from time to time to get you through the day," Klus says. "When time allows I like Irish Coffees at Jakes Crawfish — made in the same fashion as the Buena Vista in San Francisco. Jake's uses the proper glassware and the bartenders are always on-point." [Photo: Facebook]

7. Streetcar Bistro & Taproom

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1101 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 227-2988
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Kask bartender Robbie Wilson recently moved to Portland from Corvallis, but has already scoped out his favorite unsung spot — the Pearl's Streetcar Bistro — where he drinks mostly beer and Scotch. "Thirty rotating taps with mostly local and West Coast beer selections, fantastic Scotch selection and unpretentious atmosphere with probably one of the most underrated happy hours in Portland," Wilson says. Also on the menu: "One of the best burgers in town." [Photo: Foursquare]

8. Pambiche

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2811 NE Glisan St
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 233-0511
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Emily Mistell of Rum Club admits "I don't know if it's so much under-the-radar," but says that Pambiche provides one of her favorite Portland escapes. "The best happy hour in town, amazing Cuban food, they make the most delicious classic daiquiri and the service is amazing. I usually order the masitas: Carlton Farms pork deep-fried and tossed in creole garlic mojo, and the ensalada de remolacha, beet and watercress salad with extra virgin olive oil and sour orange vinaigrette. They also have a crazy Cuban dessert selection. I seriously love this place." [Photo: Foursquare]

9. Cassidy's Restaurant

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1331 SW Washington St
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 223-0054
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Racion bartender Chauncey Roach name-drops a popular bartender haunt, Cassidy's, as his go-to spot, where he drinks daiquiris shaken up by bartender Dan. "It's old-school with good food and a great atmosphere," Roach says. "The employees are awesome and I love having it as our-after work hangout." [Photo: Foursquare]

10. Punch Bowl Social Food & Drink PDX

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340 SW Morrison St
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 334-0360
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Downtown's adult game emporium Punch Bowl Social also offers a great cocktail, says Nate Gerdes: "Opened a few months ago, this is one of the more enjoyable spots in the city where you can get a good drink. Just about every form of entertainment is here; bowling, skeeball, foosball, darts, karaoke, shuffleboard, classic video games, ping pong, etc. Great food and cocktails, I love the 'Bazooka' for a simple yet delicious drink." [Photo: Avila/EPDX]

1. Sidecar 11

4039 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227

Former Kask bartender Nathan Gerdes (who's now a portfolio manager for Bacardi) reveals an insider's tip about N. Mississippi spot Sidecar 11: Keep an eye out for its special bottle releases. "The bar manager Aaron Howard collects rare and vintage bottles, sometimes dating back to Prohibition," Gerdes says. "[He] pops them open on special dates so that everyone can all enjoy it together." [Photo: Facebook]

4039 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR 97227

2. The Box Social

3971 N. Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227

The Driftwood Room's Mike Robertson presides over one of Portland's sexiest rooms, so perhaps it's no surprise he recommends another romantic little spot: N. Williams' Box Social. "The Dirty Little Thief is one of my favorite cocktails," Robertson says. "It's got habanero spiced tequila, sage, caramelized pineapple, and lime." Robertson also makes a few food-menu recs: Order up the black-and-bleu salad, the "Nibble Plate," and the roasted cauliflower dip, which Robertson describes as "creamy deliciousness." [Photo: Facebook]

3971 N. Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227

3. Dots

2521 SE Clinton St, Portland, OR 97202

When first asked about his favorite spot, Nostrana's Douglas Derrick was torn between a favorite and what's truly an unacknowledged gem: "Xico is a good answer for surprisingly good cocktails, but it is not under-the-radar." So Derrick advocates for a longtime Clinton spot, Dot's Cafe, which he says still retains its charm even after recently changing hands. "[Dot's has] great drinks for dive standards, good food and actual service. With those things in line, its a gem of a dive 'til last call. It is so great to have a long-term bar like that get some fresh life." [Photo: Foursquare]

2521 SE Clinton St
Portland, OR 97202

4. Bar Avignon

2138 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202

SE Division's Bar Avignon is perhaps best known for its wine list and French-comfort food menu, but Aviary's Ross Hunsinger says its cocktails are criminally undersung. "I think innovation and development are incredible traits for a restaurant to embody, and Bar Avignon does that: But in an old-fashioned way that focuses more developing and innovating on the nuances of what it means to be a good neighborhood restaurant," Hunsinger says. The recommended menu: "Order Champagne and oysters first, a bottle with your meal and negronis to finish. I guarantee you that it will be honest and delicious." [Photo: Avila/EPDX]

2138 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202

5. Free House Bar

1328 NE Fremont, Portland, OR

The Hop & Vine's Jacob Grier gives high praise to NE Fremont's neighborhood spot Free House, which he says is "one my favorite places in town for a drink. Pro-tip: "If Ansel Vickery is working, I'll often just get whatever he feels like making. On the menu, as a sucker for aquavit cocktails I really like the Froghair, made with aquavit and their house Swedish punch, lemon, and bitters." [Photo: Foursquare]

1328 NE Fremont
Portland, OR

6. Jake's Famous Crawfish

401 SW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97205

Tommy Klus, of the Multnomah Whiskey Library, says that because of his crazy work schedule, he rarely goes out. But he does admit to an occasional mid-afternoon pick-me-up, at the nearby Jake's. "Nothing wrong with a midday tipple from time to time to get you through the day," Klus says. "When time allows I like Irish Coffees at Jakes Crawfish — made in the same fashion as the Buena Vista in San Francisco. Jake's uses the proper glassware and the bartenders are always on-point." [Photo: Facebook]

401 SW 12th Ave
Portland, OR 97205

7. Streetcar Bistro & Taproom

1101 NW Northrup St, Portland, OR 97209

Kask bartender Robbie Wilson recently moved to Portland from Corvallis, but has already scoped out his favorite unsung spot — the Pearl's Streetcar Bistro — where he drinks mostly beer and Scotch. "Thirty rotating taps with mostly local and West Coast beer selections, fantastic Scotch selection and unpretentious atmosphere with probably one of the most underrated happy hours in Portland," Wilson says. Also on the menu: "One of the best burgers in town." [Photo: Foursquare]

1101 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209

8. Pambiche

2811 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97232

Emily Mistell of Rum Club admits "I don't know if it's so much under-the-radar," but says that Pambiche provides one of her favorite Portland escapes. "The best happy hour in town, amazing Cuban food, they make the most delicious classic daiquiri and the service is amazing. I usually order the masitas: Carlton Farms pork deep-fried and tossed in creole garlic mojo, and the ensalada de remolacha, beet and watercress salad with extra virgin olive oil and sour orange vinaigrette. They also have a crazy Cuban dessert selection. I seriously love this place." [Photo: Foursquare]

2811 NE Glisan St
Portland, OR 97232

9. Cassidy's Restaurant

1331 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205

Racion bartender Chauncey Roach name-drops a popular bartender haunt, Cassidy's, as his go-to spot, where he drinks daiquiris shaken up by bartender Dan. "It's old-school with good food and a great atmosphere," Roach says. "The employees are awesome and I love having it as our-after work hangout." [Photo: Foursquare]

1331 SW Washington St
Portland, OR 97205

10. Punch Bowl Social Food & Drink PDX

340 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97204

Downtown's adult game emporium Punch Bowl Social also offers a great cocktail, says Nate Gerdes: "Opened a few months ago, this is one of the more enjoyable spots in the city where you can get a good drink. Just about every form of entertainment is here; bowling, skeeball, foosball, darts, karaoke, shuffleboard, classic video games, ping pong, etc. Great food and cocktails, I love the 'Bazooka' for a simple yet delicious drink." [Photo: Avila/EPDX]

340 SW Morrison St
Portland, OR 97204

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