The West Endâs
1200 SW Morrison St., 922-3933, shiftdrinkspdx.com
) is a dog whistle, named after the free booze that service staffers get after they punch out. Because, yes, Portland can now devote an entire bar to serving the off-shift waiters of the West End and Pearlâthe sort who favor Fernet-Branca as a pick-me-up and might go for an intense vermouth described simply as âdrinking tobaccoâ on the menu. It was begun, indeed, by two defectors from Multnomah Whiskey Library, although its style couldnât be more different than the Libraryâs stab at a drawing room for cloistered old money. Shift Drinksâ monochromatic, airy space is an exercise in minimalism and knowing ironies, down to the giant black-and-white photo of drunken Batman, or another of a beautiful woman having a drink thrown in her face. If the room looks more modern art gallery than bar, its drinks come in as science, poured tableside from carefully measured Erlenmeyer flasks. Depending on who you are, it represents either the simplicity afforded by good taste or a sterile echo chamberâbecause, my God, the place does echo. The wine-heavy drink menu also offers KÃ¶stritzer Schwarzbier, otherwise on tap only at Stammtisch and Prost, obscure Basque and Norman ciders, and cocktails that are all booze, including a Psychedelic QuinceaÃ±era ($12) made with Agwa, a Bolivian coca-leaf liqueur. But get that drinking tobacco, or a heartbreakingly good Palermo Viejo #2 ($10) with gin, Cynar, grapefruit liqueur and mint, plus one of their richly adorned bruschettas ($8) thick as garlic bread. Show up at 7, and youâll find office moms and contemporary-conformist design hounds taking their own shift drinks in a half-empty bar. Show up at midnight, and youâre maybe mobbed with as many bartenders and servers as youâve ever seen in one place, all of them drinking on your side of the bar.