The drink options in downtown Portland are as diverse and unique as the city itself. Whether you’re looking for a low-cost happy hour or carefully crafted cocktail, you can find it here. This guide will introduce you to the best bars, lounges and taverns the neighborhood has to offer. Come thirsty, and read on for a round-up of the best places to drink in downtown Portland.
Multnomah Whiskey Library
Bar, American, Cocktails, Beer, Wine, Pub Grub, $$$
Featuring over 1,500 spirits, Multnomah Whiskey Library is a whiskey lovers dream come true. The aptly named bar has the façade of a library with shelves covering the walls filled with whiskey bottles. The ambiance is reflective of the prohibition-era speakeasy theme, where large comfy couches and chairs meet old paintings and a cozy fireplace. While bar is fairly hidden and doesn’t have much signage, you will be transported back in time once enter. The bartenders are extremely knowledgeable and will roll an old-style bar cart over to your table to make your drink right in front of you. The food, the cocktails, the ambiance, everything about this bar is perfect. Most of the time there will be a wait to get in, however, they take your phone number so you can explore other nearby bars or restaurants while you wait. Don’t let the wait time deter you, as this place is a ‘must’ when visiting Portland.
Raven & Rose is located in the historic Ladd carriage house, and The Rookery is actually the hayloft of the carriage house. There are numerous reasons to love this bar, but people keep coming back for the cocktails. The Rookery takes craft cocktails to a whole new level, and the mixologist behind them is arguably the best in Portland. The custom cocktail menu changes seasonally, and everything is good. The bar atmosphere (and the history behind the it) is equally impressive. The space features a fireplace, leather couches, a billiards table and a custom-made bar. If you’re in town and looking to meet your new favorite cocktail, stop by The Rookery bar.
Established in 1879, Huber’s Café is Portland’s oldest restaurant. While Huber’s specializes in traditional turkey dinner, their best menu item is served in a glass, rather than on a plate. Huber’s has the best Spanish Coffees in Portland. Spanish Coffees are prepared tableside and can be served hot or iced. You will enjoy watching them make the luscious libation, almost as much as you’ll enjoy drinking it.
Everything tastes better with a view. Perched atop The Nines hotel, Departure is situated right in the middle of downtown Portland. Both rooftop patios boast views of Pioneer Square and Southwest Portland, while the restaurant windows look towards the Willamette River. Enjoy a happy hour on the rooftop bar, or stay for a delicious dinner in the restaurant. Departure also boasts the largest Sake selection in Portland, as well as creative cocktails made with house-infused spirits. Visit during happy hour for a laid-back, chic atmosphere, or get dressed up and visit later in the evening for more of a classy club-like atmosphere.
Everyone loves a good dive bar, and Kelly’s Olympian is one of the best in Portland. Kelly’s Olympian is Portland’s third oldest continuously opened and operated bar-restaurant. It’s where cheap, stiff drinks meet above average bar food, and a myriad of antique neon signs shed light on vintage motorcycles that hang from the ceiling. At first glance, Kelly’s may seem like a classic biker bar, but the guests who frequent the establishment range from businessmen to students and bikers to hipsters. The bar is a favorite gathering place for locals from all walks of life (which makes for great people-watching).
If you want to go underground, Pépé le Moko is the perfect place to hide away for an hour or so and enjoy some amazing classic cocktails in a small, intimate setting. Plus, the bar is literally underground, so it’s easy to lose track of time in the dimly lit basement booths. Upon entering the small, neon-signed storefront, you are greeted by a man in a tuxedo shucking oysters. Once said man allows you to descend the steep staircase and enter the subterranean speakeasy, you will feel decades away from the rest of Portland. The drinks are on the expensive side, but they’re so good. Think classic cocktails (Amaretto Sour, Old Fashioned and Grasshopper) with a modern twist. If you’re in the area, don’t pass up this hidden gem.
Portland City Grill is a must for anyone visiting from out of town. Situated on the 35th floor of the US Bank Building (or ‘Big Pink’ as locals call it), Portland City Grill boasts stunning views of the entire city. The cocktails are amazing (try the Champagne Supernova), the food is delicious, and the happy hour is one of the best in Portland, get there early to snag a booth by the window.
MoMo’s is another favorite downtown dive bar. Conveniently situated between two MAX lines, locals love MoMo’s great location and cheap drinks. While the unassuming bar may not look like much from the outside, MoMo’s has a hidden back patio that’s one of the few outdoor drinking areas in the neighborhood. The large patio is open all year and has heat lamps and covered seating areas for cold nights. The bar food is good, and the bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable.