2010 Best Bars

Best Bars to Play

Cocktail Recipes

By John Chandler, Gretchen Holzgang, Ali Moran, and Georgia Perry November 17, 2010 Published in the December 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

La Merde

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La Merde’s Thursday-night pub quiz has been a spirited affair since 2006.

YOU’RE DRINKING Virgin Suicide ($7): Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, orange juice, soda, and Peychaud’s bitters, on the rocks

There is a definite air of erudition at La Merde, the dormlike lounge adjacent to Le Bistro Montage where customers pore over boxes of Trivial Pursuit questions in preparation for Thursday’s trivia night. Portland’s preeminent TJ, ShanRock (a.k.a. trivia jockey Shannon Donaldson), maestros the popular pub quiz, a weekly tradition since 2006. Teams of up to five players mix it up through six rounds of questions on everything from pop culture to science. Plus, there’s one goofy “physical challenge” round—e.g., playing Operation or tossing a Ping-Pong ball into a pint glass. Paired with La Merde’s signature cocktails, such as the Rudy Fernandez (hibiscus-infused tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar), and mac-and-cheese variations, the evening has become a standing-room-only affair with winners claiming prizes like the coveted “I Was ‘The Shit’ at Trivia Night” T-shirts. To the victor, the spoils. To the rest, la merde. —JC

Blitz Pearl

YOU’RE DRINKING Jubelale ($4)

The crowd at this Pearl District sports bar skews a bit to the recently graduated frat-boy side, but the sheer volume of entertainment options are worth all the accompanying hair gel and bro-speak. With shuffleboard, air hockey, pool, and darts, Blitz could host a veritable bar-game Olympics, catered with brewpub favorites like wings, six different burgers, and 12 microbrews on tap ($3 during happy hour). Blitz’s 22 plasma screens give you plenty of athletic eye candy, too. As football playoffs heat up, the neon glow of the screens, platters of Totchos (tator tots meet nachos), and the body heat from cheering fans are bound to keep you warm. —AM

Hall of Records

YOU’RE DRINKING Oakshire Espresso Stout ($5)

Another vintage vinyl shop in Portland? Yawn. One that serves beer, wine, and good grub alongside listening stations and turntables? Now that’s got our attention. Opened in August, Hall of Records is the brainwave of Justin Meyer and Katie Schawaroch, who left the LA entertainment industry to create a record-lover’s dream. Fedora-wearing hipsters peruse the Hall’s collection of 1,200 albums—all of which are available for preview on the two listening stations—while skinny-jeaned patrons sip Willamette Valley pinot and nibble bruschetta. If you’re unable to tear your ears away from, say, the Emotions R&B classic “Untouched,” take heart: you can buy any of the Hall’s albums for between $5 and $12—just the right price to start your own collection and practice scratching for Friday’s Open DJ nights. (DJ name not included.) —GH

Grand Central

YOU’RE DRINKING Ninkasi Total Domination IPA ($4.75)

While there’s a certain retro charm in the worn carpets, lingering eau de Marlboro, and bouffant-coiffed rental clerks at most bowling alleys, the truth is, sometimes we want a little more sophistication with our 10-pin. Fortunately, Grand Central delivers just the right balance of class and cheese to satisfy our inner Jeffrey Lebowski. Here, chic brown leather couches replace the traditional plastic seats alongside 12 lanes, and old-school music videos fill the 25-foot-screen behind the lanes. Upstairs, couples can wait to bowl in private fire-lit alcoves while noshing on seared ahi tuna salad or cashew-crusted salmon, or warm up with a game of pool. And should you feel a little nostalgic for greasy alley standards like nachos and onion rings, Grand Central’s menu has you covered—plus 16 beers on tap (and 14 wines) to wash them down with. Our bet: the Dude abides, indeed. —GP

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