Hemmed in by the Pacific Ocean, Tualatin Mountains, and a network of converging rivers, outdoorsy Portland takes food and drinks very seriously. After all, with millions of acres of nature to explore, its residents are a hungry and thirsty bunch who won’t settle for anything but fresh – especially when it comes to cocktails. It’s this natural penchant for farm-to-table everything coupled with Oregon’s pioneering spirit that’s produced a tall order for lofty libations. Outpacing the country’s larger spirited settings, the City of Roses has emerged as the hotspot for craft cocktails.
Before we imbibed the city’s most sought-after sips, we caught up with Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Portland’s unofficial master of mixology and barman at local tavern Clyde Common, to see why’s he’s shaking up the country’s cocktail scene. Morgenthaler approaches the art of the cocktail with an academic detail derived from dual degrees in physics and interior architecture, proving there’s art and science in every pour. Not satisfied with run of the mill rum, apple juice, or egg nog, he makes or ages his own, perfecting the flavor over months of tinkering. Part of an elite team of cocktail stars – the equivalent of celebrities in these parts – it’s these local bounty-to-beverage fanatics who are making your mixed drinks. No basic beverages here, only time-tested, barrel-aged, and passionate pours await your palate in PDX.
Led by the aforementioned Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Clyde Common is one Portland’s undisputed must-visits for drinks. I’ve stopped by the woodsy-casual tavern on multiple occasions, and true to form, the bar is always filled to the brim with locals seriously sipping Morgenthaler's latest and greatest.
The re-imagined Negroni, aged for two months in a whiskey barrel for enhanced flavor.
Seasonal Tip: Visit from the beginning of November through Christmas to savor the season with a Clyde Common Egg Nog, made from scratch – even the nog.
Teardrop Cocktail Lounge
Just a short bike ride (or walk) from Clyde Common is a cocktail lounge equally known in the city’s cocktail commotion. To visit and sip at Teardrop Cocktail Lounge is to journey back in time to a drugstore-come-saloon specializing in high-brow-meets-cowboy concoctions. Briefly scanning the cocktail menu and beverage glossary seemed like a sin, so perched at the curvy bar I studied it with the same attention to detail as my mixologist methodically made every drink.
The Misspent Youth, a wild child of a drink containing Belvedere vodka, honey, Finn River pear cider, and an Imbue Petal and Thorn aperitif.
Part restaurant, part bar and part butcher shop, Laurelhurst Market is not your average neighborhood gathering place. Open-concept and lively, both the chefs and bartenders serve the region’s terrestrial sustenance with a healthy dose of innovation. Other than a thirst for variety, I’m not sure why locals would go anywhere else.
The Smoke Signals, a whiskey and sherry-based beverage confronted with pecan syrup and lemon juiced served over hickory-smoked ice which transforms the flavor of the drink as it melts.