Kask

Caged rocks, live-edge walnut, and flickering candles set the scene for Kask’s spirit-driven cocktails.

Kask

1215 SE Alder st; grunerpdx.com/kask.htm
FOR: The Art School Crowd
YOU’RE HAVING: High Desert Swizzle (Del Maguey Vida mezcal, raspberry shrub, lime, Demerara sugar)

Given the subtle genius of Kask’s design, it’s unsurprising that owner Chris Israel spent six years as an art director at Vanity Fair. Every detail carries the mark of intention, from the collections of stained-glass bottles to the vintage cut-glass tumblers magnifying a prism of barrel-aged cachaça. Kask oozes a modernist, Old West clubhouse aura, festooned with metal knickknacks and twisted culinary doodads. Friendly, focused bartenders theatrically twirl bar spoons and torch citrus for cocktails straight from Portland’s new mixology school, heavy on ryes and masculine spirits. Discerning imbibers, crouched on low-set schoolhouse stools, nibble the only food in the house: charcuterie and cheese, listed on chalkboard slabs. The curvaceous bar, like the tabletops, is crafted from a fallen walnut tree and supported by a wall of caged stones, perpetuating the house adage: “Everything here is on the rocks.” —Benjamin Tepler

rum club

Rediscover long-forgotten cocktails in the Rum Club’s vaguely tropical drinking den.

Rum Club

720 SE Sandy Blvd; rumclubpdx.com
FOR: Old-School Rum Lovers
YOU’RE HAVING: Rum Club Daiquiri (rum, lime, maraschino, Demerara syrup, Angostura bitters, absinthe)

With a low-slung wood-paneled ceiling, darkly tropical wallpaper, vintage glassware, and a menu of long-forgotten classic cocktails, the Rum Club is a wonderfully weird little mash-up of tiki bar, South Pacific dive, and craft cocktail haven. It’s a place where Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson might share a drink, and where you could easily saddle up at the bar and watch the sun’s golden glow slide across the walls over the course of a long, rum-drenched evening. Born of a long friendship between owners Mike Shea and Kevin Ludwig, the Rum Club shares a building with Beaker & Flask (which Ludwig also owns), and it showcases the same disciplined approach to cocktail chemistry. Indeed, the house daiquiri would convert the most adamant of disbelievers, with even-handed dashes of maraschino, Demerara syrup, bitters, and absinthe added to the original formula (rum, lime, sugar). For surprisingly tasty sustenance, direct your attention to the oddly eclectic menu of party bites, from pickled eggs to empanadas, pastas, and sandwiches. Just like everything else at the Rum Club, it’s a little weird … but it works. —RR

Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen

luc lac

Luc Lac’s Smoke & Mirrors

835 SW Second Ave; luclackitchen.com
FOR: Late-Night Spice Seekers
YOU’RE HAVING: Smoke & Mirrors (Carbonated slow-drip Vietnamese coffee, mezcal, Fernet-Branca, smoked sea salt)

Last year, Portland’s Ho brothers made the jump from a cramped, pho-centric food court to a soaring, late-night Vietnamese diner tucked away on a sleepy downtown corner. From behind a U-shaped bar, the black-vested brothers shake up frothy cocktails and run steaming bowls of beef broth to their customers tucked away in tall red banquettes under hand-muraled walls. While intimidating upon first read, their liquid concoctions are a wacky and wonderful list of creamy Vietnamese flavors and classic liquors. Mung beans tumble into jackfruit, skewered watermelon balls soak in hoppy Kölsch, and fish sauce finds its way into a Jameson cocktail. Best of all, the sweet-and-boozy mélange keeps going until 4 a.m. on weekends, and pairs perfectly with springy rice noodles in anise-flavored broth or piles of deep-fried fish sauce wings. Here’s to new late-night traditions. —BT

the sweet hereafter

The Sweet Hereafter’s signature cocktail, “The Hereafter,” is a potent, one-quart refresher to be consumed with care.

Barwares

4605 NE Fremont St; smallwarespdx.com/barwares
FOR: Simple Pleasures … With a Twist
YOU’RE HAVING: The Whiskey (rye whiskey, garam masala simple syrup)

Clear is the new clever. And in a bar scene fast approaching a tipping point wherein witty drink names and endless cocktail menus become tiresome, Barwares offers the proof. Chef/owner Johanna Ware (the brains behind attached restaurant Smallwares) and bar manager Conrad Vollmer’s refreshingly candid menu includes the Gin, the Rum, the Agave, the Vodka, the Sake, the Scotch, and the Whiskey. None of them misfires, and each holds an enticing Asian nuance, from Hakutsuru plum wine to cardamom-infused rum, Thai chile tincture, and garam masala simple syrup. Whether you opt for one of these or plunge into the selection of sake, beer, and wine—helpfully arranged in categories of “Funky,” “Fizzy,” “Fruity,” “Earthy,” and “Rich”—your beverage will be best enjoyed with Ware’s sublimely “inauthentic Asian” plates, eaten on the vintage couch in the glow of a classic Monty Python flick on the projector screen. —RR

The Sweet Hereafter

3326 SE Belmont St
FOR: Thirsty East-Siders and Their Vegan Friends
YOU’RE HAVING: The Hereafter (vodka, bourbon, lemon, iced tea)

Northeast Alberta Street’s Bye and Bye has a new, good-looking brother down south: the Sweet Hereafter. Owned by the same six-person co-op, this expansive bar’s dark walls hold familiar paintings of iconic Americana, with antique typewriters and vintage football helmets stuffed between the rows of dark liquor and illuminated by caged orbs. Push through and you’ll find a huge outdoor seating area, perfect for wolfing down tangy lemongrass tofu bahn mi and buffalo subs with miso-chive cheese from an all-vegan menu that even carnivores will learn to love. The drink list is inspired by the classics, with a great Sazerac and a few killer tropical cocktails, but the true find is the namesake beverage: a Long Island–esque potion served in a quart-size mason jar, with enough vodka and bourbon to tranquilize a charging rhinoceros. —BT