In a month when motes from the Gorge fire swirl unhealthily in the air, a place called Ash Bar (575 NE 24th Ave., 503-206-4085, nomadpdx.com) would seem an unlikely refuge. But the pristine backroom space next to Providore Fine Foods is the closest thing Portland has to a boutique speakeasy, so obscure it doesn't even have a Yelp page.

Getting to Ash requires you to take two tight left turns upon entering the unmarked door of $100-a-meal Nomad restaurant. There you find a miniscule room where two driftwood branches hang like antlers above a horseshoe bar fitted tightly to the space, with acoustics so damped I scared the crap out of the bartender when I arrived while her back was turned.

But for such a small and hidden space, the options are vast. The boozy, 11-deep cocktail menu ($10-$14) is loaded with esoteric ingredients: grapefruit-oolong bitters, Braulio amaro or Singani 63 Bolivian muscat. The latter is paired with bubbles, smoky vermouth and amaro for a lightly effervescent No Time to Tango ($13) that's near-lethal with liquor.

(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)

Meanwhile, there are two separate food menus—a "breakfast for dinner" menu with a padrón-pepper scramble ($9) and Taylor ham and egg sando ($10), plus a bar menu with $9 beef-tendon chicharrónes and a $9 umeboshi burger. On special, however, was an $8 peanut butter and jelly sandwich, served with airily whipped peanut butter mousse and blueberry jam on spongy toasted brioche.

(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)

"It makes every other PB&J I've had taste like crap," our bartender said. She wasn't really wrong—and it arrived as a twee brown-bag dinner with rye-shortbread cookies, a Capri Sun and a nice little note from the kitchen scrawled on a napkin, as if from an alcoholic mother. It was easy to forget that outside, the world was dying by fire. There is no ash in Ash Bar.