The Top 10 Best Cocktail Bars in Portland

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Portland is never short of ideas on how to do things differently and their cocktail bars certainly are no exception.

With such a bustling scene of young professionals it's perhaps unsurprising that design features are prioritised so heavily by the city's cocktail bar owners and managers. Indeed, with so many new cocktail bars with such great combinations of zany design and sophisticated atmosphere popping up, it wouldn't be entirely inaccurate to consider it something of an aesthetic war zone. We've considered the furnishings and layout of all the places featured on this list, but have also been attentive to scoping out the best quality cocktail mixes, friendly, knowledeable bar staff as well as representing a range of places to suit different moods.

10. Hale Pele

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Entering Hale Pele involves a sudden geographical switch up, bringing you to an island hut somewhere in the Polynesian islands. Red and green lights cover the walls in this Tiki cocktail bar, giving the place a pleasant tropical ambiance. The commitment to decking this place out so thoroughly makes this bar an impressive piece of work to observe and a very fun spot to let loose.

Hale-pele

Photo: Facebook

9. Mint/820

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New restaurant/bar on the scene and are quickly gaining attention for the sheer quality of their cocktails. At the same time, 820's lauded bar tender Lucy Brennan's mixology classes have been developing a lot of hype, meaning 820 is poised as one of the clear rising stars in Portland's cocktail scene. This place brings an impressive focus to the craft of mixing to the city. You'll be happy you sampled one of their signature avocado daiquiris.

Avocado daquiri

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Photo: Facebook

8. Pepe le Moko

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It's hard to make out the doorway just around the corner from the Ace Hotel, but you'll feel thoroughly rewarded for locating it upon entering this sophisticated old-fashioned spot. Pepe's numerous dimly-lit booths make this place a nice, intimate bar and indeed ideal for a date. It's on the upper part of the scale in terms of price but the surroundings are just about as lush and down tempo as you're going to find in the city.

pepe-le-moko

Photo: Facebook

7. Kask

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Kask's stunning corner-side location, combined with its sleek, contemporary minimalist design gives it a very nice, cosmopolitan feel. This small venue is a great place to post up on a stool with a few close friends and watch the night go by. As it's quite cosy this is also a great place to strike up a conversation with fellow cocktail fans.

Kask

Photo: Kask

6. Expatriate

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Expatriate has put a lot of effort into providing a great cocktail experience with socialising in mind, such as detailed back stories provided for each drink on their menu and an open plan design suitable for mixing. This is a busy spot without being cramped, you're free to dance without feeling like you're about to get an elbow in the face, or worse, one that knocks over your curiously fresh, expertly-made cocktail.

expatriate

Photo: Facebook

5. Teardrop Lounge

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Situated in the heart of the Pearl District, this swank lounge bar is easily on the city's best bars at providing fantastic cocktails with an inclusive, open atmosphere. Teardrop's bar tenders are full of flair, passionate about their craft and readily discuss ingredients and mixing techniques.

teardrop

Photo: Facebook

4. Clyde Common

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Cylde Common's happy hour is your spot if you're looking to rub shoulders with an animated, youthful crowd who are passionate about cocktails. This bar is managed by the famed local cocktail figure, Jeffery Morganthaler, giving CC is a lot of prestige on the scene. It's situated in the Ace Hotel, which provides plenty of great bar- and club-hopping opportunities.

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Photo: Facebook

3. The Rookery at Raven and Rose

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Yet another example of a Portland bar with highly-impressive attention to detail in terms of its decor. "Spiffing" and "smashing" are appropriate adjectives to describe this little piece of Victorian England transported into the Pacific Northwest. Food is a big deal here as well; this place draws in a steady flow of customers looking for top quality pub food.

raven-and-rose

Photo: Facebook

2. The Rum Club

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The Rum Club is a favourite cocktail hangout in the city because of its low-key chic ambiance. The bar staff are very lively and are unsurprisingly quite handy at fixing up rum-based drinks. This place is an intriguing mix of somewhat of a dive bar appearance populated by a classy but unpretentious crowd. The Rum Club should be on anyone's list of cocktail bars in Portland to check out.

rum-club

Photo: Facebook

1. Multnomah Whiskey Library

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MWL is bursting with elegant features. Practically every angle provides a stunning piece of design, from the cleverly-lit wall of whisky bottles in the library room to 25 foot high ceilings, shelves of whisky categorised by region, this magnetic setting surely constitutes one of the most impressive whiskey bars in the country. This all of course means its a highly popular spot. Queues are a given unless you go there around opening time. With cocktails starting from $12, it's pricey but, not excessively so.

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Photo: Multnomah Whiskey Library

Written By

Evan Musgrave

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