It happens every year, and it's worse than doing taxes. Just thinking of it causes you to wet the bed. You know the horror of which we speak: holiday shopping. Thing is, this draining experience needn't be so painful. This year, go drunk. Trust us, there's nothing like stumbling through the housewares aisle of Meier & Frank reeking of cheap whiskey. Seriously.

Infused with holiday spirits, we offer a list of bars within stumbling distance of the region's largest shopping malls, those massive behemoths vacuuming the cash and building the debt of hardworking Americans just like you. So knock back a festive shot and venture forth to scour the mall's wide halls for the perfect present for Grandma. Hell, with the help of Mr. Jim Beam, perhaps this year you'll find something she actually likes.

Mall No. 1: Lloyd Center

With cheapo happy-hour prices, a diverse patronage and just a pinch of the trailer park, Stanford's is a McCormick & Schmick's for the low-rent crowd. At this bar, you'll see weary conventioneers and Santa's helpers inhaling the $2 artichoke dip before heading back to Toys "R" Us. Sure, this is one of those dime-a-dozen white-linen chain restaurants, but you can't beat its easy access to the land of Lloyd.

Mall No. 2: Clackamas Town Center

You'll have to travel about a mile from CTC to get to this one, so watch the blood-alcohol content, buddy. But! If electronics is what you're shopping for, look no closer than the Harmony Inn, right across the street from one of the biggest gift boxes of them all, Circuit City. This cozy dive's got everything you need to get psyched before that big plasma-TV purchase: video poker, an early-morning happy hour (that's 7 to 9 am, folks), and a chicken-fried-steak special. Ready, set, shop!

Mall No. 3: Washington Square

Something about the Embassy Suites' hotel restaurant and bar, Crossroads, lured us in. It wasn't that it shared the name of the ill-fated Britney Spears movie wherein Ms. Spears loses her virginity. It wasn't that it probably housed legions of lonely, vulnerable out-of-towners. It wasn't that it's spitting distance from Target (although this helps). It was the $7 Bloody Mary, stupid! Arriving in a jug-sized container with heaps of horseradish mingling with tomato juice and Stoli, this baby is H-O-T. Enough of these spicy darlings and you'll have to ditch the shopping and sneak into the hotel's indoor pool and steamy Jacuzzi.



913 Lloyd Center, 335-0811.

Harmony Inn, 10501 SE 82nd Ave., 654-2370.

Crossroads, 9000 SW Washington Square, 644-4000.