6031 SE Stark St., 503-432-8121, instagram.com/bellwetherbarco. 4-11 pm daily.
The climb up Southeast Stark Street to 60th Avenue is steep. But that just makes the little pub at the top of the hill tastier for the effort. From the hazy, romantic back patio to the roaring front room, Bellwether feels like a pub that fell into the world fully formed. The cocktails are named in an egalitarian manner, numbered from 1 to 8. The 1 is perfect for summer: rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, cranberry grenadine and salt, served with a curled lemon rind. Not overly sweet, the tangy little number is like a loud, talkative friend whose energy you can’t help but find cheerful. Where Bellwether’s cocktails eschew clever titles, its wines pick up the slack. The selection includes an Orange Wine for Beginners and an Orange Wine for the Brave.
2. Rose & Thistle Public House
2314 NE Broadway, 503-287-8582, roseandthistlepdx.com. 3 pm-1 am daily.
While the volume level is often set to “boisterous,” this punky Scottish tavern is a classic neighborhood pub at heart, with enough nooks and crannies to hide in. That’s especially true on the sprawling multilevel patio out back, and even more so now, as the bar’s COVID-proofing has spread out tables and even created some semiprivate booths along the perimeter.
3. North 45
517 NW 21st Ave., 503-248-6317, north45pub.com. 4 pm-midnight Monday-Thursday, 4 pm-1 am Friday, noon-1 am Saturday, 2 pm-midnight Sunday.
You never know exactly what you’ll find on North 45′s rear patio. But like a mullet, the party in the back is balanced by a measure of refinement. The food menu is inspired by worldly travels: Here, a Scotch egg gets a Japanese twist while steamed mussels collide with coconut curry in another dish. You can also expect an impressive drink list that circumnavigates the globe, from renowned Belgian Trappist beers to a booklet of spirits that’s almost two-dozen pages long.
4. Bantam Tavern
922 NW 21st Ave., 503-274-9032, bantamtavern.com. 3 pm-midnight Monday-Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, noon-11 pm Sunday.
A quaint corner bar can be easily overlooked in chic Northwest Portland, which is why this is one of the best places to grab a beer by the likes of de Garde or Upright from one of the eight well-curated taps and some fancified pub grub before joining the well-clad crowds elsewhere. Of course, with seating extended to the adjoining parking lot, it’s now a lot easier to find, so plan accordingly.
5. Alberta Street Pub
1036 NE Alberta St., 503-284-7665, albertastreetpub.com. 4 pm-midnight Monday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday, 11 am-midnight Saturday-Sunday.
Even before COVID, the covered back patio was the best part of this beer-centric bar. It looks like the inside of a barn and feels like hanging out in someone’s backyard. And now, Alberta Street Pub has another thing going for it: It’s one of the few places in the city that regularly hosts live music, mostly of the Americana variety, on a small stage in the outside back corner.