Mistletoe & Folly: A Christmas Morning Pub Crawl of Portland Dives

Spend the holidays as they were intended to be spent: drunk.

'Tis the binge during Christmas, and all through the bars

Patrons self-medicate emotional scars

Midst smokable tinsel, candy-cane-scented puke

And Brenda Lee covers serenading the juke.

We'd pitchers of eggnog and Long Island Iced Tea

Plus noses of red for this short winter's spree.

Outside MFP there arose such a clatter

We sprang from our stools to see what was the matter.

'Twas a little old driver so weary and miffed

We knew in a moment he must be our Lyft.

To Spare, Driftwood, Radio! To all of the Rooms!

To the Tavern of Tony's where gin blossom blooms!

We roared over bridges, past churches and mall

To drink away cares and watch Cleveland play ball.

And as the Lyft left, the car's driver did shout:

"For family holidays, stay always blacked out!"

The Itinerary

6:59 am

My Father's Place

523 SE Grand Ave., 235-5494, myfathersplacepdx.com. 6 am-2:30 am.

Although the Central Eastside Industrial District's dive bar of record welcomes a wide swath of well-wishers throughout the day, first call Christmas morning attracts an especially diverse scrum for unofficial sunrise service, split evenly between retirees seeking eye-openers, and drinkers still awake from the night before. Homesick transplants might divine a trace of Yuletides past from the gruff bonhomie, unreconstructed comfort food and well-worn rec-room aesthetic. And, for those self-made orphans day-drinking away obligations, "Spending the holiday at My Father's Place" remains the perfect excuse.

Christmas Spirit? Stocking half-empty. Aside from the life-sized snowmen cheerily menacing passers-by, half-hearted nods to seasonal decor are subsumed within a surrounding flood of tchotchkes. Older women in red or green evening gowns and wilting poinsettias should appear throughout the early morning, however.

Suggested Cocktail? Hot buttered rum. Hot apple pie. Eggnog. Rumple Minze and cocoa.

Food Specials? An afternoon Christmas dinner comes with applewood smoked ham or prime rib, but Christmas morning will continue a breakfast tradition: a family-sized chicken-fried steak with gravy and eggs. Of last year's rendition, we're told, patrons' hearts grew three sizes that day, then stopped altogether.

Appropriate Carol? Garage cover of "Merry Christmas From the Family".

9:50 am: Board bus No. 15 (NW 23rd Ave.) at Southeast 7th Avenue and Belmont Street. 10:03 am: Get off at Southwest Morrison Street and 16th Avenue. Walk one block to…

10:05 am

Driftwood Room

729 SW 15th Ave., 820-2076, hoteldeluxeportland.com/eat-drink/driftwood-room. 10 am-10:30 pm.

Once a withering lounge attached to a de facto extended care facility whose name described furnishings and patrons alike, the Driftwood Room has been reborn as a jewel box of luxe tippling that lures a cosmopolitan array of visiting guests, West Hills dowagers, and genteel bohemians sniffing happy-hour bargains.

Christmas Spirit? N/A. There's absolutely no hint of an incoming Yuletide unless you believe the old saw that the best Christmases are vintage, monied and, well, white.

Suggested Cocktail? A still-unnamed holiday concoction (DrambuTea and Spice World were summarily rejected as possibilities) featuring grapefruit juice, Champagne, Allspice Dram liqueur and Townshend's Spice Tea.

Food Specials? A limited bar menu will be available. Adjoining hotel restaurant Gracie's offers prix fixe brunch and a liquor-filled hot chocolate. Reservations are strenuously advised.

Appropriate Carol? "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt.

10:50 am: Walk approximately a half-mile to…

11 am

Tony's Tavern

1955 W Burnside St., 228-8527. 11 am-2:30 am.

Long considered the deepest dive of West Burnside's alkie district, where committed boozehounds could drink the day away unencumbered by conversation or natural light, the disappearance of neighboring Matador has brought a rather more convivial crowd to the no-frills lounge. There will be revelers wearing Santa hats, and there will be regulars wondering why.

Christmas Spirit? Surprisingly festive! Wreaths, reindeer, bluesy Santa figurines, and bartenders' stockings hung from the TV with care.

Suggested Cocktail? Peppermint Patty.

Food Specials? Another well-organized potluck seems probable. (Thanksgiving's poultry spread included roast rooster.)

Appropriate Carol? "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues.

11:45 am: Call Radio Cab. Realize the driver is a newly sober ex. Ignore the glare of disapproval piercing through the rearview mirror during awkward small talk all the way to…


Radio Room

1101 NE Alberta St., 287-2346, radioroompdx.com. 9 am-2 am.

Fully embracing its recent rebranding as lower Alberta's morning boozery, Radio Room accepts its accompanying obligations to foster the festivities of recent émigrés and the indie faithful. The upper deck and fire pit will both be open for business, and curious celebrants should expect an extensive Yuletide menu, thematic craft cocktails and po-faced banter about creeping commercialization of the holidays.

Christmas Spirit? Lump of coal. For a casual-chic lounge otherwise painstakingly appointed to resemble the Stiff Records Department of FAO Schwarz, a few limp strands of Christmas lights thrown around the window feels especially lazy.

Suggested Cocktail? While details remain under wraps, there's talk of pumpkin nog and crushed-candy-cane-topped rims.

Food Specials? Biscuits and Rudolph gravy, Frangelico French toast, hot toddy hash.

Appropriate Carol? "Christmas Is Coming Soon" by Blitzen Trapper.

12:52 pm: Board bus No. 72 (Killingsworth/82nd Ave.) at Northeast Alberta Street and 15th Avenue. 1:01 pm: Get off at Northeast Killingsworth Street and 42nd Avenue.

1:03 pm

Spare Room

4830 NE 42nd Ave., 287-5800, spareroomrestaurantandlounge.com. 7 am-2:30 am.

A sprawling dive that serves as Cully's unofficial community center, this former bowling alley hosts a range of entertainment, from string-band square dances to Kill Rock Stars showcases to bingo nights for the senior set to, later this evening, the funk stylings of Cool Breeze. A bar for all seasons, this is the one time of the year when the back-bar-adjacent sitting-room installation—couches, lamps, fireplace; imagine the long-abandoned set for an Andy Williams Christmas special—makes any sort of sense.

Christmas Spirit? These halls are decked! The main dance floor has been breathtakingly adorned for the winter formal of your dreams. Alas, an overreliance on neon blue and clumped fake snow along the narrow lounge area implies an ill-fated foam party from certain angles.

Suggested Cocktail? Eggnog Jell-O shots, Christmas in a Cup (Bailey's, Fireball, Jameson, whipped cream).

Food Specials? "That's Friday…surf and turf?"

Appropriate Carol? "I'll Make Every Day Christmas (For My Woman)" by Joe Tex.

1:29 pm: Call Uber. Enter a minivan driven by a grandma from Vernonia trying to keep busy because her family is dispersed across the country. Spend a half-hour lost in the wilds of Laurelhurst.

2 pm

Belmont Inn

3357 SE Belmont St., 232-1998, belmontsinn.com. (Estimated) 1 pm-2:30 am.

A defiant reminder of the area's rougher, readier, recent past, Belmont Inn took advantage of its namesake thoroughfare's changing fortunes to double down on the attractions beloved by its fiercely loyal clientele: more taps, a gleaming Big Buck Hunter, and UFC on the big screen. Though not a sports bar, this is a bar that enjoys sports—a notable rarity amid the tastemaker zone—and, for the most hotly anticipated regular-season NBA game since Shaq vs. Kobe 11 Christmases past, even the teetotalers may wish to duck out on the family festivities when the irresistible Warriors meet the immovable LeBron.

Christmas Spirit? Tastefully festive, like the chocolate oranges handed out from a European workmate. In different context, the handful of snowflake and tinsel might appear underdone, but, for a bar featuring the front of a vintage Camaro hovering above the restroom walls, less is undeniably more.

Suggested Cocktail? Spanish coffee.

Food Specials? Some hearty fare will probably be served—ham, turkey—though eating is rather beside the point.

Appropriate Carol? Strumming a pool cue to Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" while your girlfriend rolls her eyes.

5 pm: Following a triple-overtime thriller, stagger out into the world and ask a palsied newsboy what day it is. Upon learning it's still Christmas, cheer triumphantly. Somewhere, there's a dinner to crash. And, for the saddest sacks among us, legends claim that the stately homes of nearby Peacock Lane never turn away a stray guest who comes knocking.