After long marches through Portland's bars, pubs, lounges, taverns and brewpubs, we've come to believe that bars age a lot like the wine or whiskey served at them. Only a few are at their very best when first made. Different flavors—different people, different moods in the room—come out at different points in their existence. Maybe they get spiced up after market like a pepper infusion, or maybe the edges smooth out over time until they eventually sink into their lasting character. Maybe that's stale beer, and maybe it's fine Scotch.
Don't get us wrong: Sometimes bottle-conditioned beers age like a champ, just like an old beer bar does. Think fondly, for example, on the many incarnations of Woodstock's Lutz Tavern.
A bar guide is maybe the same way—different flavors, different times. Over the years that Willamette Week has been putting out guides to Portland bars, different bars have fallen in and out of the guide. Like old friends, some bars disappear completely, some come in and out with the seasons, and some are old and trusted standbys.
And sometimes, a bar just seems like the best place on earth for a little while. It manages to capture, better than anyone else, a vital part of what we like about our city. So for the first time, this 2013 Bar Guide will be honoring our favorite bars of the year. They might be bars that have been around for a while but recently hit their stride, or they might be a shiny new bauble glinting in the late sun. What's important is that the bar feels pretty damn special to us right now.
But of course, we didn't leave it at that. We reviewed 118 more of our favorites beyond our top three (including five neighborhood bar crawls), plus offer up the drunken list of lists: bars friendly to bicyclists, bars with drinks you can eat, the proliferation of dead animals currently adorning our pubs—with live animals offered as an antidote—and Portland's odd habit of naming things taverns when we know in our hearts that they're not.
We are terribly groggy from the onerous task of constantly drinking at bars, but we're pretty sure we can muster the energy to try more. So tell us how wrong we are for leaving out your favorite local or new favorite destination at firstname.lastname@example.org, or heck—will wonders never cease?—tell us how right we are. We love compliments.
Cheers, prost, shucram, salud, and/or l'chaim!
Editor Matthew Korfhage
Art Director Amy Martin
Copy Chief Rob Fernas
Copy Editors Matt Buckingham, Peggy Capps, Jessica Pedrosa
Drinkers Penelope Bass, Ruth Brown, Martin Cizmar, Andrea Damewood, Jordan Green, Jay Horton, Rebecca Jacobson,Casey Jarman, Emily Jensen, Mitch Lillie, John Locanthi, Michael Lopez, Matthew Korfhage, Aaron Mesh, Emilly Prado, Matthew Singer, Adrienne So, Enid Spitz
Photography Leah Nash / Christopher Onstott, Natalie Behring, Ro Tam, Rana Young, Vivian Johnson
Cover Illustration Mary Kate McDevitt
Cover Photo Leah Nash / Christopher Onstott
Cover Drink Dobre Cooler, at Bar Dobre
Interior Illustration Amy Martin
Ad Designers Kathleen Barnett, Bethlayne Hansen, Dylan Serkin