We met many great drinks this year—some recently, some way back at the beginning of 2021. Now, as the year comes to a close, these are the sips we’re still thinking about.
1. Push x Pull
821 SE Stark St., pushxpullcoffee.com. 8 am-2 pm Monday-Friday, 8 am-3 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Coffee may be ubiquitous in our city, but Christopher Hall, the 37-year-old co-founder of coffee roaster and cafe Push x Pull, possesses a singular focus on natural process beans. “Natural process” refers to fermentation of the entire coffee cherry after harvesting. In Push x Pull’s capable hands, the results are flavorful espresso shots and captivating cortados.
2. Smith Teamaker
500 NW 23rd Ave.,503-206-745, smithtea.com. 9 am-6 pm daily.
Located on Northwest 23rd Avenue, the first-ever Smith Teamaker cafe is a quiet space on the busy boutique street. The cafe serves 30 kinds of hot tea, but the curious come in for colorful lattes and aromatic tea mocktails. The Golden Light Latte is a major favorite and can be served iced or hot. It’s made by pulling Smith Golden Light tea—with turmeric, sarsaparilla root, and black pepper—through an espresso (or “teapresso”) machine, then adding maple syrup and dousing the blend with oat milk. The result is a beautiful, complex, sweet and softly spiced drink that goes mind-bendingly well with one of the pastry case’s sea salt-sprinkled miso-peanut butter cookies.
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.
4. Tiny Bubble Room
2025 N Lombard St., 503-208-2660, tinybubbleroom.com. 3-10 pm daily.
Growing up in Northeast Portland, Jeremy Lewis remembers family dinners at the Lung Fung Chinese restaurant. Now, the place is his. His new bar, Tiny Bubble Room, is named for Lung Fung’s adjoining old-school lounge, and gives Arbor Lodge and Kenton a “not-so-divey dive” similar to Roscoe’s in Montavilla, which Lewis also owns.
5. Blind Ox
4765 NE Fremont St., 503-841-5092, blindoxpdx.com. Noon-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, noon-11 pm Friday-Saturday.
Portland’s Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood is home to a micro version of the ever-popular food hall. Divvying up the building means that Blind Ox has a unique array of painkillers almost anyone could appreciate following a tense year. Need to lick your way into a sweet, blissful oblivion? There’s whipped-to-order ice cream blasted with liquid nitrogen. Want to spend the afternoon knocked out on the couch? One of Nacheaux’s fried-and-smothered odes to both Mexican and Cajun cooking will induce a nap. And if you simply need a beer to take the edge off, there is also a well-curated, 20-deep tap list.
6. Portland Cà Phê
2815 SE Holgate Blvd., 503-841-5787, portlandcaphe.com. 8 am-3 pm daily.
If you follow the Portland food scene, you’ve surely seen what’s already become a signature snap of the Southeast Holgate coffee shop on your socials: Portland Cà Phê's perfect purple ube latte held aloft in front of a wall-sized map of Vietnam. The ube latte features a subtly sugary, bright purple ube root extract—it’s not nearly as sweet as the grape hue might lead you to think. Same goes for a rose matcha, which hits the right bitter green tea notes, but with a delicate floral finish. They both taste as good as they look.
722 N Sumner St., 503-519-3415, nalukava.com. 5-11 pm Thursday-Sunday.
Up a steep flight of stairs, through an alley behind North Portland’s Cherry Sprout Produce, you’ll find an intimate, homespun tea room. The interior sports a few tables and a canopied pillowed nook, but the second-story patio is the real draw. Nalu makes its kava tea using real roots. “Squeezing the roots,” owner Holland Mulder says. “It’s a beautiful process.” The kava tea is especially important to Mulder, and it’s the main drink she wanted to serve when she opened the small secret tea bar in March 2018.
8. Little Beast Brewing
412 SE Division St., 503-208-2723, littlebeastbrewing.com. 1:30-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 1:30-11 pm Friday, noon-11 pm Saturday, noon-10 pm Sunday.
Fans of farmhouse ales have been flocking to Little Beast’s cozy bungalow since 2018, where you’ll find some of the city’s most captivating yeast-focused beverages crafted by Charles Porter, who made a name for himself in the beer industry at Deschutes and Logsdon before starting his own brand. Now Little Beast has a new partner in the kitchen: Lawless Barbecue. Kansas transplant Kevin Koch has gifted Portlanders a taste of his home state in the form of a 13-hour smoked prime brisket, burnt ends, spare ribs and pulled pork. Don’t sleep on these meats—Koch regularly ran out of food when he launched Lawless at the beginning of the year as a takeout-only joint, and he promises they pair perfectly with Porter’s beer.
9. Midnight Society
3341 SE Belmont St., themidnightsocietypdx.net. 4 pm-midnight Tuesday-Thursday, 4 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday.
When it’s an option, vermut de la casa is the best and cheapest vermouth choice you can make—and is assuredly the least FDA approved. Midnight Society co-owner and bartender Estanislado Orona makes two secret-menu blends. The white combines Dolin Dry and Padró & Co.’s Myrrha Blanco with saline to give the sweet and nutty mix a tang, like sour verjus. The red is a mix of Dolin and Cocchi Storico reds, set over cacao nibs for a week. The first sip is cherry cola and fudge. As it mellows on ice, clove and banana come out.
1250 NW 9th Ave., Suite 100, 503-342-7416, cooperativapdx.com. 7:30 am-9 pm Wednesday-Saturday.
New to the menu at the Pearl’s Italian market, the World Vermut Tour flight comes with three 3-ounce pours to remind drinkers that—to quote bar manager Joel Schmeck—”really killer vermouths” are made internationally and domestically. Alongside Spanish Lustau vermut rosé and Cnia Mata red vermouth, Cooperativa features Son of Man’s “Someday” vermouth. Made with the Basque-style Sagardo cider, brewed in Cascade Locks, this dry white warps the vermouth category—a category known to have few requisites other than being made with wine. The cloudy yellow bottle carries tart sips of kumquat and rhubarb.