14 NE 28th Ave., 503-239-3804, angelfaceportland.com. 5 pm-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 5 pm-1 am Friday-Saturday.

Established: March 2014

Whether patrons first visit tiny, pink-walled Angel Face as a mixological pilgrimage or stumble on the Kerns lounge after a meal at sister restaurant Navarre, newcomers at the horseshoe-shaped bar invariably ask for a drink list and appear shocked to learn there isn’t one. Though the veteran barkeeps deftly pour flawless iterations of all classic cocktails, the house specialty lies in improvising concoctions uniquely matched to the tastes/moods/eccentricities of their clientele.
In the manner of a serious-minded-yet-indulgent au pair, my tender inquired about preferences, which at the time were gin, sugary and—why not?—light blue to match my shirt. The resulting “Blue Lady” (gin, crème de mûre, orange liqueur, blue curaçao, lemon, simple syrup) held the shade of dusky periwinkle and a flavor suggesting single-barrel distillation of heirloom jelly beans. It was precisely what I wanted before I even knew such a thing existed. At $12 for that drink, prices aren’t cheap, but divining a customer’s innermost desires and rendering their essence drinkable should cost something above the glorified measurements of their contemporaries. So many bars do craft cocktails nowadays. So few make art.

Bar story: Easily the most notable feature of an understated decor so painstakingly appointed, ownership hand-painted what appears to be vintage wallpaper. The wooden veranda hovering 3-ish feet above the U-shaped marble bartop neatly weds function (it allows tenders to maintain eye contact while grabbing their glass-bottled tools of the trade) and form (it suggests, like most weekend patrons, both baseball cap brim and expectant tongue). Like most Angel Face innovations, the guiding notion was borrowed from a classic of cocktail culture: Parisian bistro Le Petit Fer à Cheval or "The Little Horseshoe."