Like its culinary scene, Portland’s bar world continues to evolve and grow, with new concepts and creations arriving all the time. At bars across the city, inventive, balanced cocktails arrive alongside creative bar snacks and full-on meals which are often tailored to the drink menu instead of the other way around. While 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, ones that have been open for less than a year. For more bar options, the essential bar map rounds up the best, longstanding watering holes.Read More
The Cocktail Heatmap: Where to Drink Right Now in Portland
The most exciting new bars in Portland, August 2023
The “if you know, you know” of bars, this swanky speakeasy inspired by midcentury Vietnam hides in plain sight right on bustling Northwest 23rd Avenue. The 23rd Parallel is a play on a lemongrass margarita, complete with a spicy chile salt rim. Herbaceous and fruity, Le Colonial gets its spirited punch from the Chinese liquor baijiu and the French liqueur Génépy. A menu of select dishes from the upstairs restaurant Lela’s Bistro serve as drinking supplements — the banh mi is one of Portland’s best and comes with fillings such as steamed pork and chicken pate, BBQ pork, or fried tofu. Hot tip: add the optional crispy-edge fried egg on top.
Fools and Horses
This sophisticated cocktail bar can be found in the Pearl District right next to its playful sibling bar Pink Rabbit. Fools and Horses serves a cocktail menu laden with American whiskies alongside a Hawaiian Paniolo menu from executive chef Alex Wong. Design features like a sliding ladder across shelves of spirits, a collection of hardcovers by Thackeray perched on the bar, and a living room-like nook make the polished bar an ideal locale for date nights before or after catching a show at the Armory. Don’t miss the Cash & Curry — Roku gin, sherry, toasted rice, coconut, miso, curry, and lychee — a complex but approachable creation poured over one big ice cube.
Bar Comala is restaurant group República & Co.’s rendering of what a bar in the small Mexican town of Comala would be like circa 1821. At the time, the town was a liminal space, caught between Spanish control and the fledgling country of Mexico, and ripe with international influence. The bar serves a menu of classic cocktails which have been taken for a spin. Once visitors have been ushered through a curtain, they settle into the candlelit space with cocktails like the Vieux Carré homage Plan de Ayutla, which swaps the cognac with mezcal, or the menu standout El Obrero, a champurrado-like cocktail which utilizes owner Angel Medina’s Reforma Roasters coffee; it could easily stand in as a dessert.
The interior of this mysterious vibed bar looks much like its erstwhile predecessor Psychic Bar, but offers an extensive menu of themed cocktails, including riffs on New Orleans cocktails — think: Vieux Carrés with coconut scotch and tepache sherry, or Sazeracs with chanterelle and wakame. Of the Uncanny’s original creations, the Mutual Understanding is a standout, using miso-infused vodka and snap pea-infused vermouth. Dishes conceived by chef Tamara Hattar of the pop-up Euzumeh float from the kitchen to tables in the bar’s nook or outside on the spacious patio. Don’t miss the arayes, pita stuffed with Beyond Meat and served with a tahini sauce.
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 frozen watermelon mojito. The rest of the cocktail menu is short and sweet; it’s six drinks total, including a smoky banana margarita, Jamaican daiquiri, strawberry wine cooler, and Pop Warner (vanilla vodka, black tea, limeade), that will all put you in a vacation state of mind. The bar opens daily during the summer season.
Dream House bar
The Northeast Portland century-old foursquare house that was once home to the laidback watering hole Beech Street Parlor is once again inhabited by a bar. At Dream House, Brighid King and Tony Lambright shake and stir cocktails like serrano-infused margaritas and hibiscus daiquiris, all in the $9 to $12 range. King is partial to the Evelyn, a play on a French 75 with butterfly pea flower-infused gin and Pernod mist. While you can perch on the house’s front patio or in the living room bar, cozier drinking nooks can be found in the house’s upstairs rooms — be sure to check the bar’s Instagram for the DJ schedule.
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The interior of Lollipop Shoppe presents similarly to its longtime predecessor Dig A Pony, but the co-owners of Tulip Shop Tavern and Lose Yr Mind Fest have overhauled the menu to give it a New Orleans focus, complete with dishes like po’ boys and gumbo as well as cocktails like Hurricanes and Sazeracs. The bar is now also booking more live music, from established Portland acts to talent from around the Pacific Northwest. Dive into the bar’s selection of draft spritzes for a burst of bubbly before hitting the disco ball-dappled dance floor.
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A trip below Top Chef alum Gregory Gourdet’s new but already highly lauded Haitian restaurant Kann is primed to transport visitors to the Caribbean, with a cocktail menu incorporating spirits and produce from countries across the region. Gourdet, who is sober, wanted to make sure the bar had an extensive nonalcoholic cocktail menu, and the bar’s collection of zero-proof cocktails are as creative and nuanced as the bar’s spirited offerings. Sousòl’s food menu similarly explores the flavors of the Caribbean, as well as countries that have influenced its culture, with small plates ranging from familiar bar snacks (salt cod fritters and Trini-Chinese chicken wings) to dishes that are harder to find in Portland (Jamaican beef patties and Trinidadian doubles, a flatbread filled with curried chickpeas).
Industry vet Collin Nicholas’s latest venture is his first foray into the east side, leaving the familiar territory of the Pearl District where his bars Pink Rabbit and Fools and Horses reside. At Dirty Pretty, culinary elements like saffron, a pho-wash, and clarified honey are weaved through the cocktail menu, while executive chef Alex Wong serves small plates like a spicy hash anchored by pork and shrimp shu mai and the Hawaiian-inflected fried saimin.
The Lobby Bar
This intimate Woodlawn cocktail bar took over the lobby of a former silent movie theater, tables surrounding the ticket booth at its entrance both indoors and out. The bar excels at simple, beautiful things: a plate of grilled bread and n’duja; a salad of stonefruit, melon, and figs; a floral, Negroni-esque cocktail of Meletti, gin, and vermouth. Seasonal touches here feel genuine and inventive — in the summer, sungold tomato adds a savory acidity to a captivating, somewhat bracing combination of gin, mezcal, and aquavit, while fig leaf syrup adds a vanilla-adjacent note to an aged rum daiquiri. Expect menus to change often.
The Houston Blacklight
In certain ways, walking into this Southeast Clinton spot feels like stepping into an energetic ’70s cocktail bar, with its round leather booths and neon art evocative of a blacklight poster. From the team behind Oma’s Hideaway and Gado Gado, the food here is similarly eclectic — shrimp cocktail and endive salads arrive at tables next to mapo tofu gravy fries — but the cocktails also show a remarkable amount of versatility while remaining balanced. Sure, you’ll find plenty of fun slushies and Jell-O shots here, ones made with soursop or guava or pandan; however, the bar’s simpler drinks, like the briny and floral vodka martini with Fino sherry and Spanish vermouth, are also meticulously executed. Mocktails here are also no afterthought, pairing yuzu kosho with buttermilk.
Fun-loving energy is palpable in the cocktail and food menus at The End, a bar opened by a supergroup of Portland bartending talent and chef Sam Smith. Hey Love co-owner Emily Mistell’s twists on classic cocktails include a s’mores-topped espresso martini, a buffalo wing-flavored michelada with Frank’s Red Hot and blue cheese, and a buttered popcorn Old Fashioned. A daily happy hour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. knocks down all house cocktails to a mere $10. To snack on, soft pretzels come with kimchi Velveeta dip and Cup Noodles are rigged to taste like esquites, complete with crema, Tajín, and lime.
Oozing a laid-back but charming ’70s vibe, this cocktail bar comes from the team behind White Owl Social Club and Creepy’s. Here, Sumner neighborhood patrons kick back in vintage booths, and next to a corner fireplace with cocktails like the My-O-My-Tai or the White Lotus (mezcal, Coco Lopez, pineapple orange juice) in hand. Outside on the patio, the Monster Smash cart slings crispy-edged smash burgers, which are available vegan, and golden fries with garlic aioli. Minors are allowed until 9 p.m. and can find themselves easily occupied by the bar’s arcade and pinball games.