1. Aviation American Gin
2075 NW Wilson St., 503-946-1539, aviationgin.com. Noon-7 pm Thursday-Sunday.
Aviation American Gin’s shiny, sprawling production facility and tasting room has been open for just over a year now, and it offers a distillery experience unlike any other in the city. The nearly 33,000-square-foot building has six cocktails on tap, a gift shop, beautiful copper stills, and an escape room with a Ryan Reynolds theme (the Deadpool star acquired a stake in the company, in case you hadn’t heard by now). Before you eat Thanksgiving dinner, drink it here—Aviation has rolled out five holiday feast-themed cocktails, from a pumpkin pie martini to a stuffing Negroni. We’re most excited to try the turkey and gravy martini made with chicken stock and tabasco just to see if it works.
2. Gigantic Brewing Hawthorne Portrait Room
4343 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-889-0190, giganticbrewing.com. 3-9 pm Monday-Friday, noon-9 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Nearly one year after opening its third location—the first one with a full food menu—Gigantic has finished the pub’s intimate Portrait Room (though those portraits are still in the works). The clubby space, which is now open to the public, is lined with inviting ruby-hued banquettes and rare English brown oak paneling as well as tchotchkes that founders Ben Love and Van Havig mined from estate sales. Moodier and cozier than the bright blue and white restaurant, the venue is pretty much the perfect place to hunker down with a beer when the rain is coming down in sheets this fall. We recommend the fresh hop Pilsner while it’s still on or the very drinkable Pay Czech dark lager once the final keg kicks.
3. Old Asia Teahouse & Restaurant
12055 SW 1st St., Beaverton, 971-249-3763, oldasia.co. 4-9 pm Thursday-Friday, noon-9 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Top Burmese, the miniature empire known for its curries and cute robot servers, has opened a new property—the first not bearing its name. In late October, the company launched Old Asia, dubbed “The Biggest Little Restaurant,” because the dining area is about as big as a generously sized walk-in closet—though one that is ornately decorated. Shelves behind the counter are filled with jars containing tea leaves (green, black, oolong and pu-erh), but if it’s booze you’re after, we recommend the Koji Afternoon Coffee, which has deeper, more satisfying flavors than an espresso martini thanks to the combination of Vietnamese milk coffee and Jameson whiskey. Though if you’ve already had your daily allowance of caffeine, opt for First Love: an effervescent blend of passion fruit, ginger beer and rose vodka.
4. Ponderosa Lounge & Grill
10350 N Vancouver Way, 503-345-0300, jubitz.com/ponderosa-lounge-country-bar. 9 am-midnight Monday-Wednesday, 9 am-2 am Thursday-Friday, 8 am-2 am Saturday, 8 am-midnight Sunday.
In WW’s 2018 Bar Guide, we called the Ponderosa the “crown jewel” of Jubitz, which is more of a miniature city than a truck stop in far North Portland. The lineup of country music performers is as solid as it was back then, and now the rowdy lounge is hosting a six-week Battle of the Bartenders, in which teams of two will go head to head March Madness style every Wednesday through Nov. 29 (7-9 pm). Judges will score competitors based on their signature drinks and knowledge, but audience support is also factored in. Sounds like the makings of a scene from Cocktail, so consider us in.
5. Bird Creek Distillery
815 SE Oak St., Suite B, birdcreekwhiskey.com. Noon-5 pm Tuesday-Saturday or by appointment.
Oregon may be best known for craft beer and wine, but it turns out we also work wonders with whiskey. Bird Creek is the latest brand to join established names in Portland like Westward, Bull Run and Aimsir. Its pint-sized tasting room is located in the same building as Portland Coffee Roasters (Mark Stell founded both), and all of the barley used to make the whiskeys is sourced from Oregon and Washington. Now’s the time to try a flight; the business’s Baronesse variety just nabbed the title of Best American Single Malt Whiskey 2023 at the ASCOT Awards, and Full Pint, named after the barley developed at Oregon State University, won a platinum in the same competition.