Central (220 SW Ankeny St.) is at least complicit in its own hot-button status, having declared itself a bastion of gentility in the Barmuda Triangle and remained anonymous behind a black curtain and a crêperie, while owner Dustin Knox described the rest of Old Town as a haven for “douchebaggery.” But I’m a sucker for preemptive belligerence, so let me add to the name-calling: Central is the best new bar in Portland. It’s partly the atmosphere—haunted neo-Victorian saloon crossed with artisan gym locker—but mostly it’s the cocktails, from an egg cream-like Chicago Fizz ($8) to an unspeakably delicious absinthe and Sparky’s root beer ($6). Who wants a drink that good spilled? So the mood is less exclusive than protectively communal, with the barkeep whipping up a bowl of punch ($5 a glass) on the weekends. “It’s really alcoholic,” he says approvingly. “There’s like half a bottle of rye in there.” Douchebags, no; drunks, yes.