737 SW Salmon St., 227-0705, barlowpdx.com. 3 pm-late, Monday-Saturday.
Barlow—not to be confused with the no-frills, wood-paneled NoPo dive Barlow Tavern—strives for old Hollywood glamour. This sister bar to neighboring Picnic House restaurant aims to feel like a black-and-white movie, which explains the gunmetal-gray upholstery, the dark, flocked wallpaper and the giant image of silent-film star Janet Gaynor on a back wall, presiding over the room like a doe-eyed goddess. The problem is that we live in a full-color world, and part of me wishes Barlow had kicked up its heels a little higher. The Jazz Age ardor is evident—the etched windows are yanked directly from Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby posters, and the big-band soundtrack sets a jovial mood—so why not sumptuous carpeting instead of this cold concrete floor? Why stop at just one or two glitzy chandeliers? Even so, it's a welcome addition in a neighborhood lacking utility bars. I'd gladly cross the street after a show at the Schnitz.
Happy hour: 3-6 pm, 10 pm-midnight. $6 bartender-calls-it specials and a gussied-up shrimp cocktail during late-night happy hour.
Entertainment: Special effects. Try the French Pearl ($10), a citrusy gin-and-absinthe cocktail that gets a little liquid-nitrogen smoke show. Just avoid reading about the British teenager who had part of her stomach removed after downing a drink with the cryogenic fluid.