2010 Best Bars

Best Bars to Hide Out

Whether off the beaten path, underground or out-of-state, these regional haunts are great for ladies' nights, discreet encounters or silently lurking in the shadows.

By Kasey Cordell and Rachel Ritchie With Brian Barker November 17, 2010 Published in the December 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

Driftwood Room

12 042 best bars driftwood bxjk0k

The windowless Driftwood Room, inside the Hotel deLuxe, promises sleek anonymity.

YOU’RE DRINKING Goldfinger ($10): Domaine de Canton, ginger cognac, orange bitters, champagne, served up

Nestled in the heart of Portland’s weird little Bermuda Triangle—that awkward patch of Southwest Portland where I-405, PGE Park, and the MAX make for some trippy traffic patterns—the Hotel deLuxe doesn’t see a whole lot of accidental visitors. So its compact, cave-like bar, where most of the patrons are mere passers-thru, makes an ideal spot to drink in anonymity. Well, that and the fact that the bar is about as dark as a planetarium. The stars here, though, are of the Hollywood ilk: the Driftwood Room’s signature cocktails draw inspiration from silver screen icons like Elizabeth Taylor (crème de violette and champagne) and Henry Fonda (local 12 Bridges gin and Krogstad aquavit, Domaine de Canton, lemon juice, simple syrup). Slide into one of the bar’s high-backed seats, order a drink, and feel free to lose yourself in a place where no one knows your name. —KC

Beauty Bar

YOU’RE DRINKING The Katie Bird ($8): Vanilla vodka, lime, ginger, sugar, served up

Most of the time, we ladies are happy to share swilling space with the fellas. But on occasion, we like our cocktails Y chromosome–free. For these nights, there is Beauty Bar. Trust us, with its pink walls, gilded mirrors, mint-green vintage dryer chairs, and decorative, backlit beehive silhouettes, few men will venture beyond Beauty Bar’s oversize doors. Portland’s fashionable sippers arrive in droves to indulge in the 8-month-old bar’s pièce de résistance: the $10 martini and manicure happy hour (really, you get both for a ten-spot). Nail-painting notwithstanding, Beauty Bar is a bar, not a salon; the cocktail menu features top-shelf classics and surprising concoctions like the Katie Bird, a subtle, vanilla-tinged treat—just one of the many signature drinks whose froufrou name belie their potency. But, girls, let’s keep that our little secret. —RR

The Grant House Commander’s Whiskey Bar at Fort Vancouver

YOU’RE DRINKING Oban 14 Year ($13)

The only thing more hidden than a suburban bar is one that’s housed in a fort. Built in 1824, Fort Vancouver originally was intended to help foster peaceful relations with local Native Americans. This proved somewhat unsuccessful, though (unless incarceration counts as a pacifist activity). Today the National Historic Site serves as more of a tourist destination and locals’ lunch spot. For Portlanders, that means you’re unlikely to run into anyone you know whilst sipping one of the 20 scotches in the Commander’s Whiskey Bar. Equipped with comfy, cheek-cushioning easy chairs, hefty mahogany tables, and a giant plasma screen, the snug bar provides a kind of 21st-century bunker, where Portlanders can marshal their strength with a fine single malt, undisturbed. —KC


YOU’RE DRINKING King Tut ($5): Jack Daniel’s with a float of Baileys, on the rocks

Pharaohs had their secrets. And now, so do you: Mummy’s, a small, subterranean bar off SW Broadway that’s been helping patrons avoid crowds for some 30 years. But Mummy’s is no tomb. Once you pass through the telephone box–size entry and head down the stairs, you’ll find yourself in a surprisingly bright space. Here light bounces off of glass panes cut with hieroglyphics and golden statues of sheiks and queens, and more ordinary citizens, too, likely, a scribe charged with counting corn. His prominently positioned statue signals that anyone is welcome to disappear into the deep worn-wood booths or sit at the tiny square bar. Lined with flecks of gold, the bar glows like the Ark of the Covenant—another sign you’ve found your final resting place for a quiet drink. —BB

Filed under
Show Comments