412 NE Beech St., 503-946-8184, beechstreetparlor.com. 5 pm-1 am Sunday-Thursday, 5 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday. Happy hour 5-7 pm daily: $1 off drafts and wine, $3.50 wells.
Just like "saloon," "lounge" or "shithole" reflects the nature of a bar's vibe, so too does "parlor" conjure a rather specific notion of ambience. Fortunately, the Beech Street Parlor, housed in a 1906 Old Portland foursquare just off MLK, exemplifies the concept in the best possible way, without pretension or falsity. House cocktails ($7) like the thyme vodka limeade and the rosemary gin gimlet are fresh and just fancy enough to accompany the elevated pub fare (think kale tart with smoked tomato jam and Beech's famous bacon sandwich). Take your Tinder date upstairs and nestle into a cozy nook on Victorian-style sofas set against the ornate, filigreed wallpaper, and let the intimate ambience work in your favor. There are no TVs here, and no games—mainly you are here purely to bask in the presence of your drinking companions. But should the conversation dwindle, most nights feature a DJ on the entryway turntables.
Bar story: Owners (and sisters) Maryam and Djamilah Troncelliti, of the late bar Tiga, lovingly renovated the home just enough to suit their purposes while maintaining the character of the original structure—from the front porch columns to the upstairs ghost. (Yes, of course there's a ghost.)