1. Bar Rione
810 NW 12th Ave., 503-954-1014
Bar Rione turned a concrete box once occupied by a convenience store into a sophisticated cocktail party. Operating as the waiting room for Pearl Italian spot Piazza Italia, its décor is comparatively subdued, but that just makes the more modern features—like a teal braided chandelier that spreads across the ceiling canopy style—pop.
Read the full review: Bar Rione Is the New Waiting Room for Piazza Italia, but It's a Destination in Its Own Right.
2. Bantam Tavern
922 NW 21st Ave., 503-274-9032.
Northwest 21st has no shortage of lowbrow boozers and upper-middle-class dining establishments. But there's little occupying the middle ground. For that reason, bargoers should be thoroughly grateful for Bantam Tavern. Recently opened by the owners of Prost, Stammtisch and Interurban, the diminutive space will immediately feel just right for anyone who's developed an allergy to the Nob Hill weekend meat market.
Read the full review: With Bantam Tavern, Three Bar Industry Pros Fill an Important Niche on Northwest 21st.
3. Rose City Book Pub
1329 NE Fremont St., 503-287-4801, rosecitybookpub.com.
It has all the makings of a Portland cliché: craft brews, staged poetry readings, rows of old and obscure books. But don't be deterred by appearances. The simple bar manages to fuse two of the city's trademarks—beer and used books—without a drop of pretension.
Read the full review: Rose City Book Pub is Portland's Cozy New Bar-Bookstore Hybrid.
1300 NW Lovejoy St., 971-533-8084, botanistbarpdx.com
At this sleek subterranean gin bar, veteran mixologist Robbie Wilson is spreading the joys of juniper berries to bargoers west of the Willamette. For those who know little of the details that distinguish one type of gin from another, the list of about a dozen $13 cocktails serves as a safe point of entry. As basic as it is, the Botanist G&T should be the go-to for anyone who's familiar with the timeless pleasure of a simple gin drink.
Read the full review: Botanist Introduces the Joys of Gin to the Non-Secret-Agent Crowd.
5. Benedictine Brewery
400 Humpert Lane NE, Mount Angel, 503-845-3030.
The monks at Mount Angel Abbey have been brewing beer for years, but they've only recently opened their own taproom. You won't find TV or even music there, leading to a profound appreciation of the complex ripple of flavors made possible by a strain of Belgian yeast. The approachable helles, both bready and effervescent, should be an instant crowd pleaser.