City Guide: Portland Sipping Guide
By: Adventures in Cooking
Compensation for this post was provided by Discover card via AOL Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Discover card or AOL.
Living in Portland for the past year has been wonderful, there's so much to do and see and, without the LA traffic, there's lots more time it take it all in. The city has changed so much since I was a teenager, and I've come across so many new and amazing spots since we moved into our house last June that I felt it was time to do another Portland guide. I have a general city guideas well, but being a beverage enthusiast, I thought it would be nice to do a guide specific to drinking, since Portland has such an insane number of good bars, breweries, wineries, coffee roasters, and tea makers. And all the places listed here are pretty affordable (unless stated otherwise), since traveling can get pricey it's nice to have a budget in mind before heading out. This makes Portland especially attractive because there is no sales tax here, hurray!!!
I usually end up spending the most on the plane ticket, unless I have enough miles on my mileage card to save me the money for the flight (which, when you travel as much as I do and buy a lot of plane tickets, definitely adds up). As for the drinks, I've broken the post up into beverage types, to keep it simpler for those of you who might only be interested in specific types of drinks. This is by no means a list of every good stop in the city (there are maaaaany more out there that I haven't even found yet), but these are the places I've found to be especially tasty and fun to visit, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
If you're on the lookout for liquor-specific bars, Multnomah Whiskey Library and Rum Club are two good places to start. MWL looks like the library of a prestigious university, with painted portraits of old important dudes lining the walls, but instead of books there's just a ridiculous amount of whiskey everywhere. Rum Club has a more Latin vibe, and offers really tasty sides along with their boozy drinks. If you're on the look out for a solid theme-bar, hit up Mad Sons for a revolutionary war-laced evening and some delicious and aptly named cocktails. Hale Pele is the best tiki bar in the city, and its over the top decor includes a volcano that periodically goes off throughout the evening. If low-key hipster joint is a theme, then Bonfire is your stopping point. Solid affordable drinks, kind of hole-in-the-wall vibe. For a 1950's beach bum Thai theme, head to Whiskey Soda Lounge for some insanely tasty drinking vinegars and ridiculously refreshing cocktails. If you're looking for really, really good drinks in an interesting setting, Pepe le Moko, White Owl Social Club, Doug Fir Lounge, North45, Angel Face, andAviary are your best bets. And if you're looking to drink right from the source, Portland's best distillery tasting rooms are over at House Spirits Distillery, New Deal Distillery, and Eastside Distilling.
Breweries & Beer Bars:
Lompoc Brewing has some really tasty brews and a gorgeous outdoor seating area under a large old tree. The tap selection rotates but there's always good stuff to be had. Breakside Brewery has some especially delicious pale ales and a huge covered outdoor seating area that provides relief from the sun and/or rain. They also have some awesome cocktails, too, if some members of your party aren't as into beer as you are. If intense hop flavors are your thing, then Hopworks is a must. Made to be savored, they really explore the flavor profiles that different hop varieties have in an innovative and super tasty way. Rogue has a huge selection of in-house brews and some really fun and creative beers, like their Pumpkin Savior or Marionberry Braggot. But they also have super solid IPAs for the general hipster crowd. Cascade Brewing is heading up the sour ale movement in Portland with some incredibly delicious barrel-ages ales. Commons Brewery has a really interesting selection of small-batch brews made with European yeasts, their Flemish Kiss is one of the best in the city. Burnside Brewing Company is one of my favorites for their laid-back atmosphere and ridiculously tasty drinks. I've been enjoying their Sunsplash Kolsch all summer (think kolsch with a splash of galangal, orange zest, and sorel). Ex Novo is great if you're looking for a brewery with a really beautiful space and aesthetically pleasing vibe to go with your beers. Their English-style brown ale, At Her Majesty's Pleasure, is one of my favorites in the city. Plus, they're a nonprofit and donate the money they make from the brewery to charity. Now you can finally drink for a cause! If you're going out with a big group, Laurelwood is the brewery of choice for ample indoor seating and a wide variety of brews. Their Belgian farmhouse-style ale, Hipster Sunburn, has been particularly refreshing during this summer's heatwave. If you're looking for specialized beer bars that don't brew their own, stop by Stammtisch for a wonderfully huge array of German beers on tap and an upscale feel. My favorite beers of all are Belgians (and not just because they're the booziest), and the best spots for those are Bazi and The Abbey. Bazi has about 17 available on tap and a bit more varieties available bottled, plus some really tasty food. The Abbey has over 250 bottles of Belgian beers, so it's as close to a Belgian beer library as you can get in the city. And they have a nice assortment of delicious Belgian gastropub fare, too.
Wineries + Wine Bars:
As far as wineries in the city go, Enso is my favorite for delicious wine in an amazing setting. The tasting lounge is as large as a restaurant and has an antique industrial feel to it and tons of natural light pouring in. They serve only their own wines, but they're all very tasty so you won't be disappointed. Cyril's is a restaurant and wine bar that serves wine from its own winery, Clay Pidgeon, as well as other wines from around the globe. Amazing pairings here, I especially love the options they have for their custom cheese plate. Bar Avignon has a nice industrial vibe to it, and you purchase by the bottle so make sure to bring a few friends to share it with. Their wine list is very extensive and the staff is really knowledgeable. Pour has more of a modern feel to it and serves wine by the glass and by the bottle. They also have really excellent pairings for their wines, and have one of the largest collections of bottled wines in the city, but then next wine bar holds the spot for the most. Noble Rot has over 300 options for bottles, and they also serve select bottles by the glass. One of the best things about this place is the insane view of the city from their rooftop garden where they grow much of the produce used in their dishes. If you're looking for some delicious traditional Italian fare to pair with your wines, you'll be very content ending up at either Coppia, Ava Gene's, or Tabla Pasta e Vino. All three have great food and wonderful wine selections, the prices are a bit higher, but my personal favorite is Ava Gene's because of the beautiful Italian steam punk vibe of their restaurant's interior.
Ristretto has a really relaxed vibe and a good amount of seating, their coffee is really smooth without too much bitterness or acidity – they have my favorite cappuccino in town. Coava Coffee has an awesome brew bar connected to their roastery where they roast all their coffee beans (yes, it smells as good as you'd think) location, with lots of seating and a really beautiful white brick interior. Good Coffee has some delicious blends, and the staff is really knowledgeable and happy to chat with you about whatever coffee-related queries you may have. Case Study has a gorgeous interior and I love that they get creative with their menu. Yes, they have the standard pour overs, cappuccinos, and the like, but they have a couple seasonal drinks that rotate out throughout the year. This summer they have an orange blossom iced latte that sounds like it might be weird, but it's essentially just a really good latte with the slightest floral aftertaste. Loved it. Cellar Door is as low key as you can get, no trendy interior or flashy storefront, just damn good coffee. They make my favorite vanilla latte in the city. You can actually see the little vanilla bean specks floating in it, it doesn't get much more legit than that. Barista has several locations all throughout the city, and all with very trendy vibes. The coffee is great, the interiors are beautiful, and the staff is friendly. Stumptown is probably the best-known roaster in the city. Robust flavors and everyone that works there knows a ton about coffee, so feel free to ask away!
Townshend's Tea Company has delicious loose-leaf teas that you can buy in bulk to take home, or have them brew a bit for you on the spot. But my favorite part of this place is the kombucha that they have on tap (it doesn't get much more Portland than this). Their flavors are amazing, plus if you want to try your hand at making it at home, they sell scobys, too. Steven Smith Teamaker sells blended bagged teas in an insanely delicious array of flavors. My favorite part about these teas is that the bags are a pearl-ish translucent fabric, so you can see the beautiful teas and dried herbs. They also make delicious iced teas and have an upscale tasting room where you can order tea tasting flights or a solitary cup. Tea Bar is a popular spot for the younger crowd, it seems kind of like where all the underage college kids in town hang out until they're of age. There they can drink all the delicious boba tea they want. Yes, they make soooo many kinds of boba there, and they're all wonderful. They also serve sparkling tea, tea lattes, and kombucha. The Jasmine Pearl makes their own loose-leaf tea blends, and they have a tea tasting counter with a rotating schedule of tea-based classes going on. And last on the sipping guide is neither a bar, nor a brewery, winery, coffee roaster, or tea house. It's Kure Juice, perfect for getting some non-alcoholic relief from the heat wave during the day and staying hydrated between bar hopping at night.