1433 NW Quimby St., 503-234-0865. 4-9 pm Wednesday-Saturday.
Established: Dec. 1, 2016
"This is the coolest wine bar in the world," the Dandy Warhols' Courtney Taylor-Taylor told us while sitting in his own Slabtown wine bar, the Old Portland. We can't speak for the world, but as Portland bars go this year, we agree. At the Old Portland, Taylor-Taylor, who has never lacked for aesthetic certainty, has created a living critique of overly sterile modernist design and of cramped New Portland. Carved out of the corner of the Dandys' massive Slabtown clubhouse called the Odditorium, the bar is filled with pieces from shuttered drinking spots, including tables from the Lotus Cardroom and the much-missed Wildwood. The whole place smells like an antique store. The menu is printed on a regular sheet of paper, in Goudy. That menu promises a cheese plate, but we're told they "have to go out and get some things for it," and cheese is never spoken of again.
The bottles are chosen by Taylor-Taylor, which means mostly old French and Italian reds. On our visit, there were two $12 glasses and 15 bottles, the most modest of which was a $40 Château Lanessan—that's a Bordeaux from 1999, the year I graduated from high school, and it's a wonderful drop. You won't find much Oregon wine, and absolutely no beer. "It's a bad high," Taylor-Taylor says. "Beer makes you larfy—I don't want that. I don't want those people here. I like wine, I like the high you get—a dreamy poet's high." In a town with too many "concepts" and too few visions, it's refreshing.
Bar story: See Top Five New Bars.