Drinking Locally

Cool Places

Aiiieeee! I can’t stand it! What’s the best bar for chilling?

By John Chandler July 30, 2009

The Penguin Pub in Sellwood is my choice for a proper place to chill when the weather gets infernal. (Middle) Penguin tchotchkes help to further cool the parched patron. (Bottom) Crystal Head vodka.

The heat can make a man do strange things. I figured this out while trying to stuff one of my pugs into a pirate costume for our living room production of Peter Pan. The stitches should be out in four to six weeks, thank you very much.

Yesterday I was beyond hot, well past uncomfortable, and on the verge of setting sail on the HMS Freakout when a phone call from my friend Lucy saved my bacon. We decided to visit the Penguin Pub in Sellwood (8117 SE 17th Ave). "But why there, oh mighty Bar Pilot?" you may ask yourself. By they way, thanks for the "mighty" designation.

First and foremost, as befits its arctic moniker, the Penguin is blissfully chilled. And the penguin memorabilia strewn all over the place tricks your subconscious into thinking it’s even colder. I don’t know about you, but my subconscious sweats like a sprinkler.

Second, they claim to have the coldest beer in town. Their kegs are stashed in the basement and the beer runs through cooled tubing of some kind. I don’t know if it’s officially the coldest, but it’s damn frosty, and lowering my body temperature back to double digits was imperative.

Third, they have Bottle Cap–flavored Jell-O shots. Bottle Caps are an ancient brand of candy, kind of like a cross between Sweet Tarts and Alka-Seltzer. Mmmmm. Disgusting.

But last night was bonus. While bellying up to the bar, I spied a curious artifact nestled among the liquor bottles. It appeared to be a glass skull. Bum-bum-BUM!

Having spent years playing Dungeons & Dragons (laugh and I’ll smite thee with my +4 sword of sharpness), I knew better than to pick up this cursed relic myself, so I asked the bartender to fetch it. The skull sloshed as she brought it over. "It’s called Crystal Head vodka," she said, placing it on the bar. "It’s Dan Aykroyd’s brand."

Qué? Apparently the surviving member of the Blues Brothers is into both spirits (he has his own Dan Aykroyd line of wines) and the spirit world, as he’s fascinated by the legend of the crystal skulls, allegedly ancient artifacts of great power that served as the basis for that lame Indiana Jones movie that came out last year.

A shot of this fabled elixir cost me a staggering $11 (quite a markup since a bottle retails for around $50), but it was a refined little vodka with a devilish afterburn that simmered nicely in the ol’ labonza. The sticker shock was mitigated somewhat after I found that purchasing a taste of Crystal Head at the Penguin Pub made me eligible for a drawing. Once the skull is drained of vodka, the grinning death’s head will be raffled off, and I know I’m going to win it. It’s going to look really cool on the mantel above my fireplace. And when it’s this hot outside, being cool is a thing beyond measure.

Questions for the day: What’s the best bar in town for chilling out when the heat is hellish? What’s your favorite hot-weather cocktail? Got any zany/brilliant DIY methods for keeping cool? Let’s hear ’em!

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