Portland's Best New Bars of 2017 (So Far)

by Alexander Frane on Apr 25, 2017 in Roundups

So far, 2017 hasn’t seen the myriad restaurant openings (or closings) that 2016 did, but there are a few new spots that have opened since the new year. There will surely be plenty more in the coming months, but for now, here are our four favorite new bars this year. Let us know what where you’ve been visiting or what you’re looking forward to at our Facebook or Twitter.

Nightcap
Trinket has been a popular brunch spot for three years now, but the space, located in a sleepy strip of Cesar Chavez between Hawthorne and Division, was always closed in the evenings. Now it’s home to a “sister establishment,” Nightcap. Originally intended as a dessert and cocktail spot, customer feedback—as well as OLCC regulations—led to a small menu of savory dishes, including pasta and a burger. Still, the focus is on the lush cocktails and delectable sweets, mainly in the form of rich pies. It’s a perfect spot for a second date or anniversary dinner, especially with a Sleeping Beauty in front of you. With Clear Creek Pear Brandy, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, and Cia Ciaro Amaro, it’s like a silky negroni with ripe pear on the finish. Remarkably, none of the drinks are priced above $10, and most are in the single digits, a price point that is getting rarer and rarer in this city. (2035 SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd.; 503-360-2293)

No Bones Beach Club
Portland can’t have too many tiki bars, and while No Bones Beach Club doesn’t sell itself as such, it’s hard to call it anything else. After all, you can find Mai Tais, Junglebirds, and Painkillers on the menu. What you won’t find on the menu, however, is anything from an animal: No Bones lives up to its name by being entirely vegan. The drinks are on the sweeter side, especially to those that are used to Hale Pele’s balanced tiki drinks, and purists will balk at the inclusion of pineapple and orange juice in a mai tai, but they’re solid. The staff is genuinely friendly and welcoming, and the food is good enough that even your most carnivorous friends won’t be missing much. All in all, it’s a welcome addition to the Mississippi neighborhood, a neighborhood that was lacking a good tiki, or “beach,” bar. (3928 N Mississippi Ave.)
 
AC Hotel
It’s a Marriott bar, and a few years ago that would have meant little more than vodka martinis and domestic lagers. But it’s 2017, and it’s an AC Hotel, which means Spanish style and a decent supply of sherry. But more, it’s a Portland bar—the staff did their research, the manager having lived in Portland for a while before the bar opened, and realized that in order to fit in, they would need to embrace the local spirit (and spirits). Portlanders may still find it a bit corporate, but that also means consistent, high quality service. And while the bar is required to serve specific drinks, including two different gin and tonics, it’s pushing back a bit and bringing in some Portland creativity, as well as local brands like Aviation Gin and Thomas & Sons products. It’s a great place for hotel guests to stop in for a drink before going to dinner, and locals will likely enjoy visiting as well. (888 SW 3rd Ave.; 503-223-2100)
 
 
Jackrabbit
JackRabbit is the first restaurant from celebrity chef Chris Cosentino outside of California, and and has been drawing crowds since its opening in March. The menu is meat heavy, with options like a pig head or a rabbit cooked with, seriously, 80 cloves of garlic. Even the cauliflower is cooked in duck fat, so this is not a vegetarian friendly establishment. While there are plenty of great whiskey bars in town, as well as a few good rum bars, Jackrabbit might be Portland’s first dedicated gin bar; it’s reportedly Cosentino’s favorite spirit. A wide range of local and imported gins line the shelves of the bar, and many of the drinks utilize it, including the Instagrammable Coin Toss, a drink served in an entire grapefruit shell.— that is if you ask for gin, or if you flip the right side of the coin for it; otherwise you’ll end up with tequila. (830 SW 6th Ave.; 503-412-1800)

Photos via Alexander Frane 

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