Hey, you ever hear the one about the two foodies who went to a strip club and ended up in a fistfight over a pig?
Or how about the time the old poet who lived in a punk club's basement pulled a shotgun on some unsuspecting customers? Or when the most famous rock-star couple of the '90s locked eyes for the first time at downtown's dingiest music venue, then immediately tackled each other to the floor?
In Portland, every bar has a story. Some, however, have legends—tales that exist at the blurry intersection of truth, false memories and outright lies.
And those, well, those are the good ones.
Those are the stories that weave into the populace's collective consciousness, the ones that become part of the secret historical record that tells you more about a place than anything you'll read in a tourist brochure.
In our annual Bar Guide magazine, available throughout the city this week, we give you a curated road map to the Portland bar scene, from standout new additions to classic old haunts, from the best happy hours to ideal neighborhood crawls.
But if you really want to know what makes this town such a special place to drink, you must know its lore.
That's why, in this issue, we've decided to revisit 10 of Portland's greatest bar stories. These aren't just wild yarns, though many fit that description—in case you missed it, two guys once got in a fight over a pig at a strip club. In some cases, they've altered history. Like when a local legislator changed an antiquated state law so he could dance at his favorite pub. Or when an unassuming college dive single-handedly revived a dying beer brand and turned it into a symbol of millennial cool.
Where possible, we've tracked down the people who were there, and tried to parse fact from booze-addled fiction. But in the absence of certifiable truth, the myths still bear repeating because of what they reveal about us: We may never know whether Kelly's Olympian actually had a piss trough running along the bar, but the rumors alone confirm our vision of how Portland has evolved—from gritty, possibly unsanitary little burg to shiny metropolis.
So consider this your primer on Portland's own drunk history. Study up, then go grab a copy of this year's Bar Guide and make some new legends.