Classic Cocktails in Portland

In Portland, the bartenders all have doctorates in mixology, and the cocktails tend to be infused with something akin to tamarind reduction or elderberry essence. But there's no need to go east for a straight-up, by-the-book Manhattan. We've put together a list of Portland bars that don't fix what isn't broken--the classic cocktail. (Photo: Cocktail at Teardrop Lounge by Flickr user scaredy_kat)

Updated: September 13, 2011

Classic Cocktails in Portland


The Secret Society

116 NE Russell, Portland, OR 97212

Bring a date to this intimate, low-lit spot above the Wonder Ballroom, where a live jazz band squeeze in despite a bar capacity of just 50. Choose from the bar's many-page list of old-school cocktails, such as the Bees Knees--made from gin, honey and lemon juice--it's served in a classic Champagne coupe. (Photo: Flickr user eyeliam)


Circa 33

3348 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214

Circa 33's menu is separated by year, and spans the spectrum of classic cocktails. On one end, there's the Wild West-era Corpse Reviver No. 2 (gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and absinthe) served chilled in a martini glass and garnished with orange peel. On the other end, there's the 1940s Hollywood-era Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger puree, lime juice and soda water) served in a highball glass with a wedge of lime.


The Observatory

8115 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215

Yes, the Observatory does a pear-rosemary martini, and its Lemon Drop is made from lavender-infused gin. But if you're going off the classic menu, the bartenders here are your best guides. Try the spiced Manhattan, made with allspice-infused bourbon and garnished with house-made amarena cherries. It's served either "up" in a chilled martini glass, or in a tumbler on ice.


Teardrop Lounge

1015 NW Everett, Portland, OR 97209

Don't be fooled by this Pearl District bar's sleek, modern vibe. Teardrop's cocktail are the definition of classic--the menu even lists the date and bar where each drink was originally born. The pina colada--made with DonQ rum, pineapple and house-made cream of coconut and garnished with a sliver of lime--is faithful to a version first served at the Puerto Rican Beachcomber Bar in 1954.


The Gilt Club

306 NW Broadway, Portland, OR 97209

This upscale, downtown hot spot is known for its above and beyond French-American fare, but its classic cocktails, made as faithfully to the original recipes as possible, make Gilt Club completely indispensable. The Blood and Sand--named for the 1922 Valentino film and disappointingly absent from most modern menus--is a simple blend of Scotch, cherries and cherry liqueur.