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Cocktail Bars In Portland OR


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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 02:41 PM

Over on the Portland visit topic I started, I asked about cocktails. trillium wrote,

Heathman Hotel does the best classic cocktails in the city (they tasted my Pegu before serving it, which is a plus in my book since it can be tricky). Their happy hour has great deals on food and runs all day on Thursday. Grilled lamb's tongue, crab cakes, fried oysters, crab topped deviled eggs, bistro burger, cheese and charcuterie plates, etc. The drinks are spendy (for Portland) and the bar is filled with bidness types talking about what rubes Portlanders are, but you can easily tune them out. The food gets served in the lounge too, where there is some "jazz" band playing on Thurs.

Avoid Mint if you like classic cocktails.

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I didn't make it to the Heathman, unfortunately, but I did have the happy opportunity to sit at the bar at the Benson while Jonah was tending it. He made me a fantastic Sazerac and, at my request, whipped up a wonderful drink using Aviation gin (a sort of Mojito/Gingered Gentleman hybrid with mint, lime, and ginger ale). If you've had Aviation gin, you know that it's a challenging mixer, and I was delighted.

I wanted to share that experience here and get the conversation started on cocktails in Portland. For example, why avoid Mint? A few online sources refer to it as the go-to place. I didn't, so I'm askin'.
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#2 boredwiththesea

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 01:11 PM

Greetings all -- does anyone have advice on places in Portland, OR that are particularly pushing the envelope vis a vis culinary cocktails/classical cocktails/paired cocktail-course dining menus, especially those places that might be micro-distilling, or using their own house mixers/products?

Headed out in a little more than a week, from the east coast, to check out some places where I and my partners may be opening a bar in the above-mentioned style. Want to scope out the city scene, the competition, and never want to miss an opportunity to enjoy a good drink, and some excellent food.

Thank you, and warmest regards!

N.Jarrett

#3 ExtraMSG

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 12:25 AM

I don't really drink, so I can't give you direct advice. However, my drinking friends over at PortlandFood.org usually say that Andina, Saucebox, and Clyde Common have more interesting cocktail lists and make them well. I know Park Kitchen did a cocktail pairing dinner.

#4 sfspanky

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 11:15 AM

Teardrop lounge in the pearl. Just opened but their passion is classic cocktails..they make their own bitters & soda

www.teardroplounge.com
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#5 Cole Danehower

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 05:51 PM

There are lots of interesting cocktail options in Portland, many of which have already been mentioned on this thread. You can also try, in no particular order Thatch Tiki bar on Broadway, ten01 on NW Couch (Kelly makes good classic cocktails, and has quite a repertoire of his own creations), Park Kitchen on NW 8th, Mint/820 on North Russell is controversial among cocktail enthusiasts/purists, but Lucy Brennan's creations should be experienced. You can also consider SakeOne in Forest Grove for a Saketini Saturday where they pour sake-based cocktails that can be quite good. There are many others that just don't jump immediately to mind right now as I head out of the office, that I know I will be embarrassed for not mentioning later . . . (oh yeah, Saucebox for sure . . .)

You might also check out various local websites, especially www.portlandfoodanddrink.com for notices of spirits pairing dinners. The guys at House Spirits (Aviation Gin, Medoyeff Vodka, Krogstad Aquavit) do a lot of pairing dinners at restaurants around town, and it is a great way to sample cocktails and food designed to accompany each other.

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#6 duckduck

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 01:39 PM

For example, why avoid Mint? A few online sources refer to it as the go-to place. I didn't, so I'm askin'.

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My experience with Mint has been inconsistant cocktails to the extreme. Same drink being ordered, one very sour, one very sweet. But that was a long time ago and could have changed with the staff. My other problem with them is the pre-sugared rims that sit on the bar and get hard. I find them to be less than a pleasure to sip. It makes licking the sugar off the rim of the glass pretty much impossible for those that actually enjoy sugared rims. That being said, when I had drinks at Taste of the Nation this year when Lucy was doing the shaking herself, they were killer.

Edited by duckduck, 03 August 2007 - 01:41 PM.

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#7 little ms foodie

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 05:50 PM

bumping this up for any new or updated info for a trip next weekend!

#8 little ms foodie

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 10:01 AM

Clyde Commons had a few nice drinks but was definately geared towards the vodka lovers. Teardrop Lounge was fabulous and the guys there are truly passionate and having a great time!

Thatch Tiki Bar was quite fun, good happy hour from 5-6:30 nightly. Doug Fir was more attitude than good drink!

#9 eje

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 02:44 PM

I must second the recommendation of Teardrop Lounge.

We stopped there after a fantastic dinner at Park Kitchen and they really treated us well.

An interesting range of house bitters! I think they are up to 8 varieties, including Chipotle Chocolate!

It's a vibrant space (they were running Orson Welles movies all night) and the staff was friendly and inviting to everyone who walked in the door, cocktail enthusiast or not.
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#10 cat lancaster

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 12:03 AM

I too strongly recommend Teardrop. It's at NW 10th & Everett in the Pearl district and probably one of the best places for cocktails in Portland.

I've been there three times now, and have been very happy with the drinks each time. The first time I was there was their first 'official' opening day so there weren't very many customers. Daniel the owner {I think there are two owners, but Daniel is the only one I've interacted with} served my friend and I and asked what we wanted. I didn't even look at the drink list, just said, "I like bitter, little to no sweet and complicated." He then made me three drinks in a row that were each different, interesting and delicious. Although I did like drinks two and three better then drink one, they were all wonderful.

I've since been in there two more times and he has recoginized me and remembered what I liked. I don't think he has ever made me the same drink twice, as they are always creating new bitters, tonics, mixers, etc.

When you sit down they give you a little food amuse, which I've liked. I've never ordered off the food menu though and only know one friend who has. She wasn't wild about the food, but I've only been there for drinks and can't rate the menu.

You know those people that you meet in the service industry that truly seem to love what they do and try to do everything first rate? That's how I think of Daniel and Teardrop. I live on the east side of the river, and Teardrop is on the west. But if they were closer to me, I'd be the drunken barfly they had to pour into a cab every night :rolleyes:

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#11 Ling

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 06:52 PM

Teardrop is one of the most impressive cocktail bars I've visited. Can't say much since I wrote about it for an article, but they are up to 10 housemade bitters now, make their own tepache, Meyer lemon sake gastrique, and other cool mix-ins.

ETA: Credit for finding Teardrop goes to Cat Lancaster, who suggested we go after dinner! The next time I go to Portland, I'll be on a K&Z/Apizza Scholls/Toro Bravo/Teardrop bender.

Edited by Ling, 02 January 2008 - 06:54 PM.


#12 Chris Amirault

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 01:56 PM

On my recent trip, with less time on my hands than I'd have liked, I devoted one full evening each to drinks at Clyde Common, where Jeff Morgenthaler is now holding court, and at Teardrop Lounge, where I enjoyed the work of the estimable trio of Dan Shoemaker, Ted Charak, and Daniel Shenaut. (Allison Dykes was also behind the stick but didn't make me any drinks, sadly -- not that I wasn't putting my head back frequently.) Both bars are serving world-class drinks from terrific bartenders who are really nice people to boot.

Clyde Common

I have no idea what was happening at Clyde Common before Jeff recently arrived, but his uber-professional sensibility, mad skills, and terrific demeanor set the tone there now. (Props to Nate Tilden, proprietor, who brought Jeff up from Eugene and who gives a great BOH tour. I'll never tell where the super-old Pappy is, Nate.) Though he moves very quickly on a busy night, Jeff measures, tastes, and adjusts every single drink that goes out, and not just the cocktailian brews. His team's ability to handle a wide array of personalities was pretty impressive, too, never anything but friendly no matter the drink order and appropriately explicit with the drunks.

The drinks were all stellar. (Jason Barwikowski's food was great, too, especially the cocktail-friendly food I focused on: confit lamb belly, olive oil poached octopus, and one of the best cod dishes -- seared with razor clams and pickled celery -- I've ever had.) I really loved the Norwegian Wood (Krogstad aquavit, Laird's applejack, Cinzano rosso, yellow Chartreuse, Angostura) and think it would be off-the-charts good if Jeff had access to BIB Laird's. I also thought that the Bittersweet Symphony (Martin Miller, Aperol, Punt e Mes) was note-perfect, and Jeff's version of an Old Fashioned using the Evan Williams 1998 (from CC's remarkable rye list) was the best I've ever had, a truly superior match of spirit and preparation.

Teardrop Lounge

I think I'm in love with Dan Shoemaker (and not -- full disclosure -- because he comped a drink or two). If it didn't happen when he said, "When I decided I had to open this place, eGullet taught me everything," it happened the moment when he handed me his version of an Improved Gin Cocktail, a breaktaking glass featuring Hayman's Old Tom gin and Marteau absinthe. In its evocation of both the classic lessons of the past and the remarkable state of the craft today, it was the most memorable cocktail I've ever had, and I'm damned if I can give you a word more description than that.

Dan, Ted, and Daniel have a passion for cocktails that would be somewhat hard to believe if their drinks didn't deliver on every promise, implied or otherwise. Over the course of my evening, I enjoyed samples of homemade libations including dry vermouth, Amer Picon, tonic water, grenadine, creme de cacao, ginger beer, kummel, and several tinctures, including costus and pau d'arco; a vodka flight, including one distilled from honey, that changed my mind about what vodka could be; eau d'Amis; and a gin flight.

I also had cocktails: a September Morn; a Modus Operandi (Sazerac rye, Amaro Nonino, Carpano Antica, sasparilla & clove tintures, Pau d’Arco bitters); a Dizzy Sour, with Depaz blue cane rhum, Sazerac rye, Bénédictine, lemon, and sugar; and a Sandcastles in the Sky, with Glenfarclas 12 year, Bénédictine, floc de gascogne, Marteau absinthe, and citrus oil. It was the most astonishing series of cocktails I've ever had, each topping the previous. I can't imagine better drinks than these.

I closed the evening with an on-the-spot invention by Daniel with Hayman's St. Germain, Dolin dry, orange flower water, and an orange twist; he called it an Ephemeral Cocktail, but it lingered well after I wandered out onto the Portland streets, as has the memory of that wonderful evening.

* * * * *

The two places are very different: Clyde Commons evokes an old, wood-grain Portland that probably never existed, with a bar set to the side of the main show in the dining room and open kitchen; Teardrop Lounge is all 21-century cocktail bar, with the well, the "droplet" shelf, and even the walls oozing tinctures, projects, books, and barrels. Coming from a town with not one solid choice for a quality bar, I would be happy in Portland never having to make a decision about which was better, given how fantastic both are.
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#13 haresfur

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 06:46 PM

Thanks for the review, Chris, even though you make me feel like a light-weight. How long were you there? :biggrin:

I've been meaning to check out both places but mostly have been just passing through with a quick stop at the liquor store (better selection than WA). Guess I'll just have to make it a priority.
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#14 rockdoggydog

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 10:37 AM

Besides Teardrop and Clyde Common, other places worth checking out in close proximity are 50 Plates and Ten01. BTW, Mr Shenaut's first name is David, not Daniel. While you're in Portland make sure to pick up some Ransom Old Tom Gin, it's totally fantastic.

Rocky

#15 Chris Amirault

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 06:29 AM

Thanks for the fix, Rocky -- and sorry, David. I guess my scrawled handwriting indicates a bigger lightweight than first suggested. :wink:
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#16 Keith Orr

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 10:37 PM

On my recent trip, with less time on my hands than I'd have liked, I devoted one full evening each to drinks at Clyde Common, where Jeff Morgenthaler is now holding court, and at Teardrop Lounge, where I enjoyed the work of the estimable trio of Dan Shoemaker, Ted Charak, and Daniel Shenaut. (Allison Dykes was also behind the stick but didn't make me any drinks, sadly -- not that I wasn't putting my head back frequently.) Both bars are serving world-class drinks from terrific bartenders  who are really nice people to boot.

Clyde Common

I have no idea what was happening at Clyde Common before Jeff recently arrived, but his uber-professional sensibility, mad skills, and terrific demeanor set the tone there now. (Props to Nate Tilden, proprietor, who brought Jeff up from Eugene and who gives a great BOH tour. I'll never tell where the super-old Pappy is, Nate.) Though he moves very quickly on a busy night, Jeff measures, tastes, and adjusts every single drink that goes out, and not just the cocktailian brews. His team's ability to handle a wide array of personalities was pretty impressive, too, never anything but friendly no matter the drink order and appropriately explicit with the drunks.

The drinks were all stellar. (Jason Barwikowski's food was great, too, especially the cocktail-friendly food I focused on: confit lamb belly, olive oil poached octopus, and one of the best cod dishes -- seared with razor clams and pickled celery -- I've ever had.) I really loved the Norwegian Wood (Krogstad aquavit, Laird's applejack, Cinzano rosso, yellow Chartreuse, Angostura) and think it would be off-the-charts good if Jeff had access to BIB Laird's. I also thought that the Bittersweet Symphony (Martin Miller, Aperol, Punt e Mes) was note-perfect, and Jeff's version of an Old Fashioned using the Evan Williams 1998 (from CC's remarkable rye list) was the best I've ever had, a truly superior match of spirit and preparation.

Teardrop Lounge

I think I'm in love with Dan Shoemaker (and not -- full disclosure -- because he comped a drink or two). If it didn't happen when he said, "When I decided I had to open this place, eGullet taught me everything," it happened the moment when he handed me his version of an Improved Gin Cocktail, a breaktaking glass featuring Hayman's Old Tom gin and Marteau absinthe. In its evocation of both the classic lessons of the past and the remarkable state of the craft today, it was the most memorable cocktail I've ever had, and I'm damned if I can give you a word more description than that.

Dan, Ted, and Daniel have a passion for cocktails that would be somewhat hard to believe if their drinks didn't deliver on every promise, implied or otherwise. Over the course of my evening, I enjoyed samples of homemade libations including dry vermouth, Amer Picon, tonic water, grenadine, creme de cacao, ginger beer, kummel, and several tinctures, including costus and pau d'arco; a vodka flight, including one distilled from honey, that changed my mind about what vodka could be; eau d'Amis; and a gin flight.

I also had cocktails: a September Morn; a Modus Operandi (Sazerac rye, Amaro Nonino, Carpano Antica, sasparilla & clove tintures, Pau d’Arco bitters); a Dizzy Sour, with Depaz blue cane rhum, Sazerac rye, Bénédictine, lemon, and sugar; and a Sandcastles in the Sky, with Glenfarclas 12 year, Bénédictine, floc de gascogne, Marteau absinthe, and citrus oil. It was the most astonishing series of cocktails I've ever had, each topping the previous. I can't imagine better drinks than these.

I closed the evening with an on-the-spot invention by Daniel with Hayman's St. Germain, Dolin dry, orange flower water, and an orange twist; he called it an Ephemeral Cocktail, but it lingered well after I wandered out onto the Portland streets, as has the memory of that wonderful evening.

* * * * *

The two places are very different: Clyde Commons evokes an old, wood-grain Portland that probably never existed, with a bar set to the side of the main show in the dining room and open kitchen; Teardrop Lounge is all 21-century cocktail bar, with the well, the "droplet" shelf, and even the walls oozing tinctures, projects, books, and barrels. Coming from a town with not one solid choice for a quality bar, I would be happy in Portland never having to make a decision about which was better, given how fantastic both are.

View Post


Teardrop is the ultimate Cocktail Experience. Clyde Commons is a wonderful place, but the old wood grain experience was Erickson's - at one time the longest bar in the world, at least according to local legend. It was a working man's bar and probably had very little other than alcohol in common with Clyde. Clyde Commons has much to recommend it. Even more so since Morgenthaler took the helm at the bar, but it's more than cocktails and IMHO is the best Happy Hour place in Portland. Second best, but first in other's opinion would be Ten-01.

Teardrop is the Cocktail Intellectual's hang out of choice. Personally a couple of Clyde Common HH cocktails, a burger and fries followed up with a visit to Teardrop is as good as it gets for this Oregon Boy.

#17 Chris Amirault

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 05:03 PM

Here's that Norwegian Wood I was crowing about.
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#18 Chris Amirault

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 05:23 AM

What's new and different? Heading out next month.
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#19 Chris Amirault

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 07:28 AM

Beaker & Flask? Gilt Club? Thatch Tiki Bar?
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#20 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:00 PM

Scheduling complications are forcing decisions, so here's the itinerary: tonight and Friday, Teardrop Lounge; Wednesday, Thatch Tiki Bar; Thursday Clyde Common. Happy to see anyone interested in joining me for some work-related research. Ahem.
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#21 John DePaula

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 03:38 PM

Sorry, just now saw this...

You definitely want to try out Beaker & Flask, Clyde Common, Teardrop, Ten01 (makes a great Aviation), and they're making some great cocktails over at SpintS, too.
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#22 Chris Amirault

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 04:20 PM

I'm going to have dinner and a drink at Beaker & Flask tonight before Thatch. Hadn't seen Ten01 before -- thanks.
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#23 Chris Amirault

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 07:01 PM

Beaker & Flask is outstanding. Forgot to say that last year.

Heading out for another week of consulting soon. Any updates?
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#24 Twohearted

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 12:42 PM

Beaker & Flask is outstanding. Forgot to say that last year.

Heading out for another week of consulting soon. Any updates?


The places already mentioned are still there, although Ten01 is gone. St. Jack is a new Lyonnaise restaurant in the Cliton neighborhood. Kyle Webster is part-owner and runs the bar there. He is doing some very good things like:

Vieux Rhum CarrÉ
NIESSON VIEUX RHUM RESERVE, RITTENHOUSE BONDED RYE
WHISKEY, CARPANO ANTICA FORMULA VERMOUTH, BENEDICTINE,
PEYCHAUD'S & ANGOSTURA BITTERS