Portland loves its cocktails, so much so that every bar and restaurant seems to sport a “craft” cocktail menu. While maps like the Essential Bars round up the best, longstanding watering holes, this map directs drinkers to the hottest or newest cocktail bars that are worth the hype. From overhauled cocktail menus to popular hangouts, here are the 15 buzziest places to grab a mixed drink in Portland. To start off the new year, the sleek modernist bar Wonderly makes room for night club Two Wrongs and a new sleek, modernist bar Someday.Read More
The Cocktail Heatmap: Where to Drink Right Now in Portland
The hippest new bars in Portland, February 2020
1. Xica Cantina
The companion to Southeast’s Xico, Xica Cantina brings the same style of Mexican cuisine and agave spirits to Northwest Portland, but with a greater emphasis on the bar side of things. The long, multi-seated bar puts out juicy, agave-fueled cocktails, from the classic margarita to more creative drinks with Mexican rum or mole-spiced Campari. Aside from cocktails, Xica Cantina also offers an expansive array of mezcals, with half-ounce, full ounce, and ounce-and-a-half options. The cheerful, colorful space has a small play area for kids, just in case parents are looking for a spot to unwind.
2. Bar Diane
Portland, OR 97210
Tucked behind Eb & Bean on NW 21st Avenue, the gorgeous, cheerful Bar Diane was originally going to be all wine, but the added cocktails are no afterthought. The menu is rooted entirely in classics, inspired by co-owner Sami Gaston’s grandparents who had a cocktail hour promptly at five that included staples like gimlets and rob roys. Drinks like martinis and sidecars come in cute tumblers, giving more of a casual European café vibe than a that of a cocktail lounge, while drinks like an Americano and a vermouth spritz maintain the wine-focused nature of the shop.
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Portland, OR 97209
R&R is dedicated to vacation vibes — the intimate space sports a marbled blue bar the color of Caribbean waves, and the hardwood booths have astroturf under each of them, all creating a kitschy but charming environment. The drink menu doesn’t get too crazy, mostly sticking to recognizably tropical staples like mai tais and daiquiris, as well as some originals; still, all the drinks are balanced and never overly sweet. Its food menu is just as fun, with dishes like breaded shrimp with a sweet-spicy dipping sauce, sweet potato fries with jerk mayo, and spam musubi.
4. Two Wrongs Portland
Two Wrongs has shaken off its growing pains: While still primarily a club destination — especially in the later part of the evening — the gorgeously tiled bar offers an appreciable drink menu. More serious cocktail aficionados will appreciate the solidly made Wrong Fashioned and the botanical, refreshing Naked and Famous with mezcal and chartreuse, while those just looking for a stiff, fun drink can go for the Faderade, an iconoclastic mix of vodka and blue Gatorade which actually is pretty refreshing after a few hours of dancing. The slushy margaritas are enjoyable, too.
5. Tulip Shop Tavern
The drinks at Tulip Shop Tavern are deeply straightforward — almost entirely reasonably priced, well-known, classic drinks, made without any drastic twist. That being said, they’re all made with aplomb by the Portland bar veterans who run the shop, and the specials board often has a few off-the-cuff drinks worth a try. The bar rocks a friendly neighborhood haunt vibe, especially with its vintage brick walls and peanut shells strewn across the floor. Murals hang both inside and on the back patio, and visitors can catch a live show inside or play free darts outside on the partially-covered patio.
Portland, OR 97214
Filling the space previously inhabited by the short-lived Lantern bar, Lulu opened in March with a tight menu of bright, juicy cocktails in line with the tropical trend that has gripped Portland. The Pretty Ugly is a standout, a vividly green cocktail of mezcal and kiwi. The drink matches the decor of the space, with a few plants and emerald wood-paneling standing out against the reserved, clean decor. A small list of draught beers, bottled beers, and a few wines by the glass fill out the drink menu, while the food involves tricked out banh mi and jojos.
Portland, OR 97214
Only open Thursday through Saturday for now, the subterranean speakeasy Voysey mixes moody and elegant design with a cocktail menu that changes just about every week. The bar, helmed by industry veterans Jamie King and Katie Stipe, will eventually have a more permanent menu, but for now visitors will find all manner of bold, creative drinks, often with a weekly theme — for instance, an early January menu features ingredients thought of as “healthy” for the new year, like coconut water, turmeric, and green tea.
8. Scotch Lodge
The hotly anticipated Scotch Lodge from La Moule’s Tommy Klus has lived up to the hype in its time open. Its namesake cocktail — a smooth, rich, and smoky drink — is evocative of the whole affair: a bit playful, a bit elegant, and very bold. The veteran bar staff serves gorgeously garnished drinks while the kitchen puts out whimsically modern French bar food in an indigo-tinted den hidden from the bustle of the city.
A new Latin American restaurant from the owners of the next door vegan Thai restaurant Kati, Mestizo features colorful tiles, wide windows, and bright highlights. The cocktail menu offers a distinct take on “classics with a twist,” presenting a list of historic drinks that have been updated with agave spirits. For instance, the Medicina Latina is essentially a penicillin, with blanco tequila standing in for blended scotch, lime instead of lemon, ginger, honey, and a float of mezcal to mimic the smoky scotch that normally tops the drink. The Mezcal Al Pastor is a popular option, a cross between a margarita and a bloody mary, with pineapple, lime, mezcal, agave, and adobo sauce that adds some kick and savoriness.
Portland, OR 97202
Helmed by two industry veterans, the warmly minimalist cocktail bar Someday is tucked down a colorfully painted alley and flanked by food carts. Here, owners Jessica Baesler and Graham Files embellish original concoctions with elements from the kitchen like tamarind and elevate rarer, more esoteric classic drinks from the ‘20s and ‘30s. Like the decor, the drinks are approachable, but elegant and complex.
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11. The Automatic Bar
Taking over the space formerly home to the beloved Victory Bar, the Automatic fills the niche of a comfy neighborhood bar with well-executed cocktails at reasonable prices. The main cocktail menu is full of bright, spritzy highballs and stiffer whiskey and mezcal drinks, but a menu of $5 cocktails during happy hour is where it really gets fun. Even the space feels a little brighter: The team pulled the old blinds from the windows, allowing more natural light to spill over the wall murals and tufted leather seating that adorn the space.
12. Hi-Top Tavern
From the folks who delivered Old Gold and Paydirt’s “too much whiskey” bars, Hi-Top Tavern brings “too much liquor” to the Cully neighborhood, adding tequila and mezcal to the large collection of whiskey. Cocktails include well-worn classics with a twist and fun newbies like a basil-Campari spritz served in a pint. Hi-Top also brings a bold style with a fully mirrored, segmented back bar and cozy rooms tucked off the main one. As a bonus, it features a massive, half-covered patio.
13. The Lift Off Lounge
Portland, OR 97213
The emerald-green Lift Off Lounge rocks retro-futurist aesthetics mixed with an old-school Portland kind of vibe. The cocktail menu includes a pretty stellar banana daiquiri or thyme-infused gibson martini, but it’s fun, affordable, and well-executed. It’s easy to see the Lift Off Lounge being the locals’ new neighborhood haunt.
14. 5 & Dime
Portland, OR 97206
From two bartenders with serious cocktail backgrounds, the drinks at 5 & Dime are remarkably reserved: The bulk of the cocktail menu is devoted to straightforward classics, from “serious” drinks like old-fashioneds to more playful drinks like mai tais; still, a smaller list of original cocktails allows the bartenders to flex their creative muscles. The neighborhood-cocktail-bar vibe is made whole with its pricing (drinks average around $9 and $10), as well as the industrial but stylish interior, with green library lamps along the sprawling bar and tufted green leather furniture throughout.