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The rooftop bar at the Sunset Room is shaded by hanging sheets.
The Sunset Room.
Chefstable

The Cocktail Heatmap: Where to Drink Right Now in Portland

The most exciting new bars in Portland, August 2022

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The Sunset Room.
| Chefstable

Even during the pandemic, Portland continues to open new, exciting places to find cocktails. Like its culinary scene, Portland’s bar world continues to evolve and grow, with new concepts and creations arriving all the time. While the essential bar map rounds up the best, longstanding watering holes, and the heatmap rounds up the best new restaurants and food carts, this map directs drinkers to the hottest or newest cocktail bars that are worth the hype. Bars on the map have been open less than a year to qualify.

Note: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

City Bridge & Tunnel

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Moving into the space vacated by Shift Drinks would be a challenge for any bar: making its sparse, industrial space cozy could be tricky, and the bar would have to live up to the beloved industry spot’s reputation. But City Bridge & Tunnel is making admirable strides to do so. The spacious dining room now features comfortable tufted green couches and chairs, stylish marble tables, live plants, and a massive art piece of roses along one wall. The drinks are accessible and familiar — all classics at the moment, but made with a steady and confident hand. Daiquiri lovers will be more than satisfied with the bright, funky blend of rums in the house daiquiri, and those looking for something a little more booze forward will find it in the crisp and clear Vesper. Negronis on-tap means the drink is well balanced and quickly delivered. The bar is still evolving, and will soon see additions like djs and private dining rooms, though owner Brandon Glasser promises it won’t ever become a nightclub — just a solid, late-night spot for a cocktail, glass of wine, and some food.

Mendelssohn’s

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Devoted to chamber music, this bar is owned by a direct descendant of its namesake, 19th century German composer Felix Mendelssohn. In addition to a calendar of live music from local instrumentalists and opera karaoke nights, the cocktail menu here is a draw for lovers of classical music — it’s stacked with libations with names like Bach Talk and A Drink Without Words (a play on Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words”). The food menu is lean, consisting of a charcuterie board and a few sandwich options, but the bar also allows patrons to bring over food from neighboring Bar Bar.

Pacific Standard

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Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Benjamin Amberg, the dynamic duo formerly behind the bar at Clyde Common, have hopped the river to another hotel and opened a bar of their own. Standards like an Old Fashioned and an “all-day” bloody mary find themselves at home with cocktails infused with Good Coffee, low-proof draft cocktails, and Morgenthaler’s canned Bourbon Renewal, made in collaboration with Ninkasi. The food menu is fiercely West Coast, from Walla Walla French onion dip to Willapa Bay oysters, from Tijuana-style Caesar salad to Oregon berry crumble. Find a perch at the elegant bar, softly illuminated by library lamps, or sink back into a leather couch with a group of friends in your own little nook.

The Sunset Room

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Pacific Standard’s playful sister bar is a room with a view, although technically not a room at all. The breezy rooftop serves slushies as chill as the vibe, and is currently spinning a Painkiller (rum, orange, pineapple, coconut) and a watermelon margarita. The rest of the cocktail menu is short and sweet; its four drinks — a Hotel Nacional Special, Peach 75, Disco Ball, and Dry Rosé Sangria — will all put you in a vacation state of mind. In true party-style, it’s open Friday through Sunday.

Suckerpunch

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Can it still be considered a cocktail bar with no alcohol on the menu whatsoever? Suckerpunch’s temporary pop-up answers that question with a resounding “Yes.” Here, bartenders mix thrilling concoctions using potable vinegars, kombucha, teas, and other flavorful, alcohol-free ingredients. The Smokestack Lightning combines non-alcoholic spirits like Pathfinder and Lyre’s Italian Orange with Smith Tea Zheng Shan and Lapsang Souchong. Noticeably, the cocktails at Suckerpunch aren’t meant to replicate well-known boozy drinks like gin and tonics; the focus is on crafting original, captivating libations free from alcohol. Stop by before the pop-up packs up at the end of the month to focus on their upcoming permanent location.

Sissy Bar Portland

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Two doors down from Crush Bar, a new LGBTQ bar has taken up residence on Southeast Morrison. The bar is a destination for affordably priced cocktails and Colombian dishes like arepas and sudado, a chicken stew that can also be made vegan. Cheeky pop culture nods like a cutout of Paris Hilton behind the DJ booth and the Will Smith Punch (house sour mix, passionfruit puree, dark rum float) are sprinkled throughout the bar, which plays throwback music videos on a couple of flat screens.

Cereus PDX

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Visit this bar, which pulls inspiration from cocktails around the world, to sip on a Prince of Edinia, which was originally created for a cocktail competition in Mexico. The cocktail is positively royal looking, from its purple hue down to the glass goblet it’s served in, and marries the corn-based Peruvian beverage chicha morada with tequila and a ginger-cayenne syrup under a cloud of egg white. Vibrant dishes like Colombian street-style ceviches and salmon tiraditos vie for space on tables adorned with mini floral arrangements from across-the-street neighbor Colibri. To get up close to the action, sit up at the intimate bar or near the open kitchen in the two-room space.

The Sports Bra

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Portland’s first ever all-women’s sports bar has been attracting massive crowds into its cozy, pub-like space since it opened. The sports aspect of the bar is present without being intrusive: A few flat screens air all manner of women’s sports, and Thorns and other female teams’ jerseys line the walls. Its drink program is likewise women-driven, with one section devoted entirely to Freeland Spirits cocktails, Portland’s own women-owned distillery. Most drinks are variations on classics made with local spirits, like the Pickle Ball, a dirty martini with Freeland gin. However the Goat is a good place to start, a bright and balanced cocktail which gets a nutty richness from genever and the bittersweet touch of Aperol. They can be enjoyed with a number of gluten-free sandwich and burger options, as well as ribs, wings, nachos, fries, and other pub staples.

Holy Ghost

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The newest addition to the whiskey-heavy bar group that includes Paydirt and Old Gold might be its most fun. The insides are wholly unrecognizable from when it was home to the Bar at the End of the Universe, now with stunning blue tile work, sapphire paintings, and tufted leather bar stools on gorgeous hardwood flooring. The drinks focus less on whiskey than its sibling bars do, instead celebrating agave spirits — fans of dark, lush drinks can find tequila and mezcal Old Fashioneds, while those who enjoy the lighter libations can select from a list of highballs made with the same. However, newcomers should start with the ephemerally fluffy gin fizzes, shaken for five minutes by Japanese bubble tea shakers. Holy Ghost offers seating indoors and on a shared patio.

Bar Cala

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Millennial pink isn’t dead at this Latin bar that serves refreshing cocktails like the splashy watermelon Sandia es Vida and the Mama Coco (vodka or gin, melon, coconut water, yuzu soda). Hungry drinkers will find dishes like aguachile crudo and coctel de camaron on the seafood-heavy food menu. The bar’s high ceilings are festooned with lush greenery and fairy lights, and music pumps steadily through the speakers, giving the place a Palm Springs party vibe.

Sugar Hill

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Settle into one of the bar’s plush booths or banquettes at this ‘70s-themed bar from the team behind Jackie’s and Two Wrongs to sip retro cocktails like the Pornstar Martini or a Blue Hawaii(an). A giant palm tree takes center stage between walls adorned with vintage posters advertising liquor, and more seating can be found outside on a summer-ready patio. The bar’s daily happy hour offers two dollar oysters and classic frozen treats like rocket pops and ice cream sandwiches are a nostalgic cap to any visit.

Bellwether Bar

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Bellwether fits well in the old Victorian house perched on the side of Mt. Tabor. Its spacious wooden dining room and extensive back patio make an elegant setting for the stunning cocktails coming out of the bar. Bellwether’s drinks tend towards bright and strong, with an emphasis on agave spirits and rums, with plenty of citrus. Those looking for a light and spritzy highball can find those, too. Some cool and funky natural wines along with local beers round out the drink menu, while a limited but satisfying food menu leans towards pub classics with a few outliers, like a vegan chickpea curry.

City Bridge & Tunnel

Moving into the space vacated by Shift Drinks would be a challenge for any bar: making its sparse, industrial space cozy could be tricky, and the bar would have to live up to the beloved industry spot’s reputation. But City Bridge & Tunnel is making admirable strides to do so. The spacious dining room now features comfortable tufted green couches and chairs, stylish marble tables, live plants, and a massive art piece of roses along one wall. The drinks are accessible and familiar — all classics at the moment, but made with a steady and confident hand. Daiquiri lovers will be more than satisfied with the bright, funky blend of rums in the house daiquiri, and those looking for something a little more booze forward will find it in the crisp and clear Vesper. Negronis on-tap means the drink is well balanced and quickly delivered. The bar is still evolving, and will soon see additions like djs and private dining rooms, though owner Brandon Glasser promises it won’t ever become a nightclub — just a solid, late-night spot for a cocktail, glass of wine, and some food.

Mendelssohn’s

Devoted to chamber music, this bar is owned by a direct descendant of its namesake, 19th century German composer Felix Mendelssohn. In addition to a calendar of live music from local instrumentalists and opera karaoke nights, the cocktail menu here is a draw for lovers of classical music — it’s stacked with libations with names like Bach Talk and A Drink Without Words (a play on Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words”). The food menu is lean, consisting of a charcuterie board and a few sandwich options, but the bar also allows patrons to bring over food from neighboring Bar Bar.

Pacific Standard

Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Benjamin Amberg, the dynamic duo formerly behind the bar at Clyde Common, have hopped the river to another hotel and opened a bar of their own. Standards like an Old Fashioned and an “all-day” bloody mary find themselves at home with cocktails infused with Good Coffee, low-proof draft cocktails, and Morgenthaler’s canned Bourbon Renewal, made in collaboration with Ninkasi. The food menu is fiercely West Coast, from Walla Walla French onion dip to Willapa Bay oysters, from Tijuana-style Caesar salad to Oregon berry crumble. Find a perch at the elegant bar, softly illuminated by library lamps, or sink back into a leather couch with a group of friends in your own little nook.

The Sunset Room

Pacific Standard’s playful sister bar is a room with a view, although technically not a room at all. The breezy rooftop serves slushies as chill as the vibe, and is currently spinning a Painkiller (rum, orange, pineapple, coconut) and a watermelon margarita. The rest of the cocktail menu is short and sweet; its four drinks — a Hotel Nacional Special, Peach 75, Disco Ball, and Dry Rosé Sangria — will all put you in a vacation state of mind. In true party-style, it’s open Friday through Sunday.

Suckerpunch

Can it still be considered a cocktail bar with no alcohol on the menu whatsoever? Suckerpunch’s temporary pop-up answers that question with a resounding “Yes.” Here, bartenders mix thrilling concoctions using potable vinegars, kombucha, teas, and other flavorful, alcohol-free ingredients. The Smokestack Lightning combines non-alcoholic spirits like Pathfinder and Lyre’s Italian Orange with Smith Tea Zheng Shan and Lapsang Souchong. Noticeably, the cocktails at Suckerpunch aren’t meant to replicate well-known boozy drinks like gin and tonics; the focus is on crafting original, captivating libations free from alcohol. Stop by before the pop-up packs up at the end of the month to focus on their upcoming permanent location.

Sissy Bar Portland

Two doors down from Crush Bar, a new LGBTQ bar has taken up residence on Southeast Morrison. The bar is a destination for affordably priced cocktails and Colombian dishes like arepas and sudado, a chicken stew that can also be made vegan. Cheeky pop culture nods like a cutout of Paris Hilton behind the DJ booth and the Will Smith Punch (house sour mix, passionfruit puree, dark rum float) are sprinkled throughout the bar, which plays throwback music videos on a couple of flat screens.

Cereus PDX

Visit this bar, which pulls inspiration from cocktails around the world, to sip on a Prince of Edinia, which was originally created for a cocktail competition in Mexico. The cocktail is positively royal looking, from its purple hue down to the glass goblet it’s served in, and marries the corn-based Peruvian beverage chicha morada with tequila and a ginger-cayenne syrup under a cloud of egg white. Vibrant dishes like Colombian street-style ceviches and salmon tiraditos vie for space on tables adorned with mini floral arrangements from across-the-street neighbor Colibri. To get up close to the action, sit up at the intimate bar or near the open kitchen in the two-room space.

The Sports Bra

Portland’s first ever all-women’s sports bar has been attracting massive crowds into its cozy, pub-like space since it opened. The sports aspect of the bar is present without being intrusive: A few flat screens air all manner of women’s sports, and Thorns and other female teams’ jerseys line the walls. Its drink program is likewise women-driven, with one section devoted entirely to Freeland Spirits cocktails, Portland’s own women-owned distillery. Most drinks are variations on classics made with local spirits, like the Pickle Ball, a dirty martini with Freeland gin. However the Goat is a good place to start, a bright and balanced cocktail which gets a nutty richness from genever and the bittersweet touch of Aperol. They can be enjoyed with a number of gluten-free sandwich and burger options, as well as ribs, wings, nachos, fries, and other pub staples.

Holy Ghost

The newest addition to the whiskey-heavy bar group that includes Paydirt and Old Gold might be its most fun. The insides are wholly unrecognizable from when it was home to the Bar at the End of the Universe, now with stunning blue tile work, sapphire paintings, and tufted leather bar stools on gorgeous hardwood flooring. The drinks focus less on whiskey than its sibling bars do, instead celebrating agave spirits — fans of dark, lush drinks can find tequila and mezcal Old Fashioneds, while those who enjoy the lighter libations can select from a list of highballs made with the same. However, newcomers should start with the ephemerally fluffy gin fizzes, shaken for five minutes by Japanese bubble tea shakers. Holy Ghost offers seating indoors and on a shared patio.

Bar Cala

Millennial pink isn’t dead at this Latin bar that serves refreshing cocktails like the splashy watermelon Sandia es Vida and the Mama Coco (vodka or gin, melon, coconut water, yuzu soda). Hungry drinkers will find dishes like aguachile crudo and coctel de camaron on the seafood-heavy food menu. The bar’s high ceilings are festooned with lush greenery and fairy lights, and music pumps steadily through the speakers, giving the place a Palm Springs party vibe.

Sugar Hill

Settle into one of the bar’s plush booths or banquettes at this ‘70s-themed bar from the team behind Jackie’s and Two Wrongs to sip retro cocktails like the Pornstar Martini or a Blue Hawaii(an). A giant palm tree takes center stage between walls adorned with vintage posters advertising liquor, and more seating can be found outside on a summer-ready patio. The bar’s daily happy hour offers two dollar oysters and classic frozen treats like rocket pops and ice cream sandwiches are a nostalgic cap to any visit.

Bellwether Bar

Bellwether fits well in the old Victorian house perched on the side of Mt. Tabor. Its spacious wooden dining room and extensive back patio make an elegant setting for the stunning cocktails coming out of the bar. Bellwether’s drinks tend towards bright and strong, with an emphasis on agave spirits and rums, with plenty of citrus. Those looking for a light and spritzy highball can find those, too. Some cool and funky natural wines along with local beers round out the drink menu, while a limited but satisfying food menu leans towards pub classics with a few outliers, like a vegan chickpea curry.

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