True story: I once ordered a whiskey on the rocks from a bartender at a now-defunct bar. She was upset that I ordered this drink because she was out of tumblers--not because they were all being used, but because they were all dirty and she didn't want to clean them. So I ordered a pint of beer. "'Out' of pint glasses too," she said. We just started at each other. I helped myself to some water. My point is, that while such an experience in Portland is neither rare nor shocking, it does not have to be your experience. Choose these bars with consistently respectful and attentive barkeep.
Beneath a fake bear head with a fake arm in its mouth is a plaque informing you of which bartender is on duty. Valerie or Maureen? Beneath the sign (tonight) is Valerie, who wants to learn your name and your drink so she'll know for the next time. If you pop in to the Yukon Tavern on a Tuesday I recommend getting one of the $2.75-whiskey-and-cokes.
The Rialto's enormous projection screens are great for Blazers games, while some stiff competition shoots out on their numerous pool tables.
George's is the eclectic neighborhood dive where tatted young kids perch next to seasoned veterans of cheap lager. Think Coors & jello shots.
First established in 1978, Sloan's has changed little since, and that's a good thing. There's a sweet cougar behind the bar with a mean G&T.
The rousing atmosphere of Rose & Thistle during soccer (football?) matches reminds me of my bartending days in Edinburgh. The rustic Caledonian interior is as reminiscent of Scotland as the fish & chips and haggis on the menu--which is a late night blessing, available until the 2:30am bar close.
Open since 1958, Club 21 is still serving strong. The interior is tidy & kitsch, but not overly so, & the burger menu is a fat kid's dream.
Tonic Lounge provides a stellar stage for local and national acts to perform. Go for the live sets and strong drinks. Most convenient: two bars in two different rooms. Pay in cash and pick whichever line is shortest.
Billy Ray's, the go-to neighborhood bar, lives up to its dive status: flowing PBR, a lot of broken stuff, and liquor stuffed in the back.
Here's the tip with Amnesia: if you normally drink 3 beers, only have 2 beers here. Despite the listed ABV, even the cider will mess you up.
When wandering around inner NE and needing to satisfy some low brow urges, hit up the cheap swill at the B-Side. Smoke on the newly expanded patio.
A proper neighborhood dive with ocean murals that fool no one, Maui's offers stiff drinks, free pool (Weds), pinball, and Blazers games.