Slushies have proved to be this summer's breakout hit. Adult-grade Slurpees are popping up all over Portland, from familiar dives like the Standard to high-end cocktail bars like Rum Club. Here are the notables, with a map at bottom.
Peach Blended at Rum Club (pictured at top)
720 SE Sandy Blvd., 265-8807, rumclubpdx.com.
Rum Club is known for some of the best bartenders in town, working from one of the best shelves in town—ask them about their house rum blends, including two named for the staffers who assembled them. The bar has a large selection of refreshing snow cone-type cocktails made with crushed ice, including the Doctor Wu ($10), with London dry gin, blackberry grenadine, bitters, fresh fruit juice and fresh blackberries. But what you really want when it's available is the Peach Blended, an umbrella drink made with blended rum, fresh peaches, lime and sugar. The peaches are very ripe, with enough acidic tartness to balance out all the sweetness. It's as good as blended drinks get.
Sidepipe at Bunk Bar Wonder
128 NE Russell St., 328-2865, bunksandwiches.com.
One of the few surviving items from Trigger, Bunk's sub-Wonder Ballroom experiment in Tex-Mex, the Sidepipe remains a miracle of drunk science. Based on the gringo-cantina staple in the Southwest, the Sidepipe ($10, and actually worth it) is a D-cup-sized margarita bowl slushed from the house machine, with a mini-bottle of Corona plunged into it upside-down. Wonder of wonders, the beer refuses to pour until you finish your stiff-ass margarita, at which point the leftover sour from the margarita limes up your beer. Perfect.
Frozen piña colada at Paymaster Lounge
1020 NW 17th Ave., 943-2780, paymasterlounge.com.
Paymaster is the only eastside-style bar on the entire westside, an improvised little pinball-stacked dive with both a front and a rear patio. It was initially called Moonshine, and then Balls the Cat's Moonshine Lounge, until a similarly named bar in another state complained and forced the name change to Paymaster, after the old check cashing-station sign the bar had never removed in the first place. Anyway, if you slip through a catacomb of claustrophobic left and right turns, you can reach one of Portland's best patios, complete with outdoor pool table. Bring with you a light, sweet, angrily alcoholic slushy piña colada ($6)—six ounces of slush, seemingly three of rum—and blister yourself in the sun. Just don't get the slushy Hurricane at the same price. It tastes like the punch at a college party.
Jelly beer at Whiskey Soda Lounge
3131 SE Division St., 232-0102, whiskeysodalounge.com.
Salt is the secret to Whiskey Soda Lounge's jelly beer (also known as "bia wun," "beer woon"), which Andy Ricker's profitable Pok Pok waiting room has been serving for five summers now. The machine that makes them, which looks like a grocery-store wine chiller but also has a built-in agitator, is filled with saltwater that gets below freezing. Order a jelly beer—the bartender reported at least 40 people did one recent balmy Sunday—and they'll toss a 12-ounce bottle of Singha Thai beer in the tub until it freezes. The bartender gets a straw ready, cracks the top and tells you to get sipping. The frozen suds spurt out, meaning you have to suck hard and fast.
Prickly pear frozen margarita at La Panza Cafe
2425 SE 26th Ave., 236-5005, lapanzacafe.com.
It comes out of machines you find at family-style Mexican joints, but the purple prickly pear frozen margarita ($8) at this New Mexican—as in the state, not indicative of modernity or the length of time it's been open—restaurant off Division Street is something else entirely. Prickly pears are cactus fruit with a gamey, gritty sweetness, and this beverage channels them very well. It's also of heartening strength.
Kiwrita at White Owl Social Club
1305 SE 8th Ave., 236-9672, whiteowlsocialclub.com.
The pale green Kiwrita ($9) from the slushy machine at White Owl Social Club aims to keep you on the lushy side of ice drinks. A blend of kiwi fruit and Altos Plata tequila, it's served in a poco grande glass aimed squarely at taking the edge off your summer-induced, rapidly climbing internal temperature. The cocktail doesn't highlight the flavor of its tequila, which opens the opportunity to "accidentally" have one or three too many.
Krakatoa at Hale Pele
2733 NE Broadway, 662-8454, halepele.com.
The Krakatoa ($12) is like those trick birthday candles: No matter how hard you blow on this towering glass of crushed ice, aged Jamaican rum, cinnamon, grapefruit and cold-pressed coffee at the Hale Pele tiki bar, the yellow blaze won't turn to white smoke. If you're eager to avoid overly sweet iced booze drinks, this is the ticket: this foam-topped elixir of cocoa-colored liquor is restrained in every aspect except the glowing topper.
Frozen margarita at the High Dive
1406 SE 12th Ave., 384-2285.
The dedicated margarita machine at the High Dive kicks out a dense slush that practically guarantees a brain freeze long before the drinker ever gets buzzed. But, once the numbing sensation finally passes, you might have a hard time standing up to order your third. The strong sweet-citrus assault on your taste buds, however, has already converted you, and without hesitation you're headed back to the bar to confess your need for another.
Frozen margarita at Sunshine Tavern
3111 SE Division St., 688-1750, sunshinepdx.com.
This bougie faux dive (shuffleboard, $12 hamburger) is right in the middle of the action on Division Street, the sort of place that would be essential if it felt more like a born-in gathering spot than a second-date destination you haven't quite figured out. But along with soft-serve vanilla ice cream (you'll do better at the Dairy Queen at Division and 56th Avenue), Sunshine does a frozen margarita without cloying sweetness—or much in the way of tangy lime flavor. If you want the mildest frozen margarita in town, this is your spot.
Cinnamon apple slushy at the Standard
14 NE 22nd Ave., 233-4181.
This patio-heavy dive off East Burnside Street just got two slushy machines. One was spinning only soap on our visit, but the other had a drink that would be perfect for a rainy but humid summer day: an apple-and-cinnamon concoction that tastes like an iced version of Woodchuck and Fireball. If it's a warm autumn, its popularity could last a while.