They say fate is a fickle mistress. And the pandemic has flipped the death card for many Portland businesses. But as any tarot reader can tell you, a death card can also signify rebirth. Fortune, once located in downtrodden Old Town, defied death and found new life, reopening in the Sentinel Hotel last July. But is this new iteration destined for greatness? The answer lies within.
Inside the seductive, dimly lit bar, the vibe is old meets new. Classic, vintage details in the domed, stained-glass ceilings and wainscoting on the walls belie a history dating back to the 1920s. Contemporary style has been tastefully applied to the Prohibition-era foundations. With tropical colors, bold art, and lush vegetation, Fortune has a buoyant energy. And there’s room aplenty for any kind of socializing you might be looking to do.
The bar matches the space it occupies—it’s long and curvy, offering space for groups to build up at various points. You can generally bypass the chatty clumps to find a seat. If you want to keep things more intimate for date night, there are candlelit two-tops and cozy nooks. Out on the floor are tables for groups to gather around for after-work drinks. And comfy couches line the walls for lounging and people watching when the vibe turns to party mode. Fortune is very chill early in the evening, but the party starts rolling as the night goes on.
Whether you’re there during the relaxing hours, or later when the dance floor is in full swing, you’re gonna want some booze. The signature cocktails are around $15. The bar has something of a tropical motif, so I went for the more tropical drinks on offer. They were fine. Boozy and juicy, they drank easy but lacked the kind of flavor complexity and craft you’d expect from a true cocktail bar. Maybe stick to mixed drinks, wines and beers and focus on the great atmosphere instead.
A major new factor in Fortune’s revival is the vegan food menu by rising star Plant Based Papi. I was on a mission to drink, so I only tried the Papi Burger. And, family, I was pleased. Trust that from a heavy meat and cheese eater like me, praise for vegan dishes doesn’t come easy. But that burger, which evokes the quality and simplicity of an In-N-Out burger, is praise-worthy. And if the other menu items are anywhere as good, you won’t be disappointed. Despite that, I wouldn’t recommend looking at Fortune as a restaurant. It’s still very much a bar, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
For entertainment, Fortune offers a rotating cast of great local and visiting DJs (like it did when it was in Old Town) playing hip-hop, R&B and funk. You can sip while the DJs spin on Mondays and Thursdays through Saturdays. Fortune is open until midnight on most nights but stays open until 2 am on Friday and Saturday. Obviously, the non-school nights are when things get turned up a few notches. Since Dec. 17, Fortune has required proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter.
And, not to bury the lede, but Friday is also the night Fortune has a literal in-house fortune teller giving tarot readings in the backroom. You don’t need to be a believer in mysticism to have a great time drinking while your fate is revealed to you. Despite my skepticism, I still learned a lot about myself, like, apparently, I need to “get out of my head” and “root myself in the present” more. Whatever that means. Anyway, if you’re looking for some insight into your future, why not give it a shot?
And what does the future hold? If you’re looking for a sumptuous cocktail lounge with great music, atmosphere, and vegan food that won’t make you miss meat, then your answer is Fortune.
DRINK: Fortune, 614 SW 11th Ave., 503-384-2347, fortune.bar, 4 pm-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 4 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday.