Tangled between two rivers, and consistently grey with slow, drizzly rain, Portland is a drinker’s town. It sits between two lauded wine regions, with bines of hops growing to the south, traveling north to the city’s breweries for fresh hop ales and IPAs. Wild, unfiltered water drips down from the Bull Run Watershed, shockingly pristine, and serves as the foundation for some of the city’s celebrated cups of coffee. Distilleries, breweries, and urban wineries dot the city, found within clusters of bars and restaurants. Finding a good cocktail, shot of espresso, glass of wine, pint of beer — that isn’t hard in Portland.
At least, that was the case, until recently: Coronavirus barged through the city’s restaurant and bar scene, knocking down iconic spots like Shift Drinks and neighborhood haunts like Liberty Glass. Even the tea scene wasn’t safe: Brew Dr., formerly known as Townshend’s Tea, is slowly closing all of its tea shops, in favor of wholesale kombucha. Bartenders went on unemployment for months — if they could even get it. Bar owners hunkered down, pulling together some sort of food takeout, transforming their wine bars into bottle shops, and fighting to sell cocktails to-go. And once bars could actually reopen their dining rooms with limited capacity, they had to figure out how to make that work, creating outdoor bar seating in neighboring streets or installing hardcore HVAC systems.
For Portland drinkers, beverage — alcoholic or not — is a foundational part of the city’s culture. Coffee shops and bars are meeting grounds, makeshift office spaces, community centers. Some people have returned to those spaces, sipping Old Fashioneds under covered patios. Others are waiting, ordering coffee beans online. Regardless, the city’s beverage industry is holding on — but who knows how long that will last.
Below, we explore the state of Portland’s beverage industry during one of its most challenging years yet, and tell you where to go if you’re looking for something good to drink — turns out, there’s plenty out there, even now.
Bars and Restaurants Still Can’t Sell To-Go Cocktails; Here’s Why That Matters
• Oregon’s Fight for To-Go Cocktails, Explained
• If Oregon Wants to Keep Its Bars Alive, It Needs to Legalize Takeout Cocktails
• What the Latest Coronavirus-Related Regulations Mean for Oregon’s Bars and Restaurants
How Bars Have Adapted
• Portland’s Wine Bars Morphed Into Makeshift Bottle Shops. Will They Change Back?
• How Teardrop Lounge Tried to Create the Safest Indoor Bar in Portland
• Instead of Opening Inside, Botanist Created a New Rooftop Bar and Restaurant Hub
• While the Bar Next Door Remains Closed, a Cocktail Pop-Up Emerges in an Alleyway
• A Southwest Portland Karaoke Bar Transforms into a Korean Restaurant to Survive
• A Scotch Bar Becomes a Fish-and-Chips Shop to Stay Afloat
• Pearl District cafe La Perlita became the place to be for pandemic-era pop-ups. Now, its owner is opening a wine-bar-meets-dessert-cafe-meets-Mexican-restaurant next door.
• An Incoming Juice Bar Aims to be a Wellness Space for BIPOC Portlanders
• A New Winery and Restaurant Will Open in Portland’s West Hills Next Year
Where to Drink Now
• The Essential Portland Cocktail Bars That Are Still Serving Drinks
• An Essential Guide to Portland’s Breweries
• Sip Coffee at These 12 Portland Roasters and Cafes
• The Happy Hours That Can Still Be Found in Portland
• 20 Portland Bar Patios for Socially Distanced Imbibing
• Where to Find Takeout Cocktails in Vancouver