Five Bottles to Try: Whiskey | Rum | Gin | Vodka | Fruit Liquors


Aviary

1733 NE Alberta St., 287-2400, aviarypdx.com.

Aviary makes dishes that are already potent cocktails of cuisines. But the cocktails manage to keep up. Try the canicule, a complex little number that manages to mix gin, sauvignon blanc, vermouth, pineapple shrub and jalapeño—a world tour never taken so swiftly—without making a mess. 

  

Clyde Common

1014 SW Stark St., 228-3333, clydecommon.com.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler has been the one mainstay at Clyde Common since its 2007 start, and he's long favored small twists and updates on classics, appealing to sweeter teeth than bartenders following the current craze in cough-syrup drinks. He was one of the first in the U.S. to really push barrel-aged cocktails—his 2-month bourbon barrel-aged Negroni is now a classic, a less tannic and more complex version of the original throat-closer.


Imperial 

410 SW Broadway, 228-7222, imperialpdx.com.

Brandon Wise has become one of the town's more recognizable faces in Portland's grand shrine of mixology, with cocktails often getting equal billing at Vitaly Paley's downtown Hotel Lucia eatery. One drink uses honey from beehives atop the hotel, seemingly half the mixers are housemade, and the guy made a drink with radishes that's a revelation—"A Radish Walks Into a Bar" stirs together vermouth, Ransom Old Tom gin and a radish gastrique. That said, the cocktails aren't just showboats: They're specifically designed to complement the food.


Laurelhurst Market

3155 E Burnside St., 206-3097, laurelhurstmarket.com.

The steakhouse has traditionally served better cocktail sides than vegetable ones. With any steak, get the Smoke Signal, which mixes sherry, Tennessee whiskey, pecan syrup, lemon and an ice cube imbued with smoke as deep as in any Texas barbecue.


Ox

2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 284-3366, oxpdx.com. 

Born under star bartender Jamal Hassan (now flitting among the Gorham restaurants), Ox's drinks became some of the best in town while maintaining crisp economy in their ingredients. The Scotch-amaro-smoke-syrup Cowboy Killer cocktail is more subtle in its smoky pleasures than much of the meat; the Things Done Changed mixes pisco, egg white, jalapeño and smoked lemon for a spicy-sweet treat, cooled; and the place once even served a drink with shaved foie gras.


Ración

1205 SW Washington St., 971-276-8008, racionpdx.com.

Ración makes daring drinks. Only this bar in Portland would wash gin with serrano ham. And only this one would take the already-bitter Negroni and add to the Campari a wine-based amaro made with thistle and artichoke-based Cynar, for extra nettling. It's a bracing, exhilarating trip to the back of the palate.


The Woodsman Tavern

4537 SE Division St., 971-373-8264, woodsmantavern.com.

Perhaps the first in town to so successfully muddle bar and restaurant, the Woodsman Tavern remains mostly a restaurant despite one of the finest bar managers in town, Evan Zimmerman, whose whiskey cocktails were good enough he snookered GQ into naming Woodsman one of the top 10 whiskey bars in America (alongside a listing as a top 10 new restaurant). Something about a Manhattan mixed with cherry Heering and lapsang souchong caught the magazine's fancy.

Five Bottles to Try: Whiskey | Rum | Gin | Vodka | Fruit Liquors