The Scenic Route

In such a charmingly rugged corner of the world, it’s a shame to sequester yourself behind tinted glass, cigarette smoke and canned ambience. Towering trees, gulp-inducing skylines, views of snowcapped peaks—that’s the reason we live (and, yes, drink) here. Because when your mood calls for a cold beer and a sublime vista, the alienating blue glow of the video poker machine just won’t cut it.


TOP SHELF


SKYLINE TAVERN
What you’re drinking: Mirror Pond
Your New York driver’s license doesn’t expire until 2009, and despite having lived in Oregon for two years, you refuse to trade it in. Because to do so would mean never again hearing bartender Andrew’s sing-song welcome: “New York City?! What in the dog shit are you doing here?” As if he didn’t know. The Skyline is like a summer camp for casual drinkers: The metronome of ping-pong balls clacking on the back porch, the clang and thud of horseshoes thrown in the pit, the smell of burgers sizzling on the BYO-meat community grill, all played out in front of a tree-lined view of the Willamette Valley that’ll put a lump in your throat. If friends from the Big City try to tempt you into coming back to Manhattan when they visit, this is where you take them to explain why that will never happen. You’ll sip in silence, frame the valley between two outgrowths of spindly pine and chase the most beautiful beer buzz in the country. (8031 NW Skyline Blvd, 503-286-4788)


MCMENAMINS EDGEFIELD
What you’re drinking: One of their approximately 8 gazillion microbrews
It’s not so much a bar crawl as it is a bar sprawl: A handful of pubs—the Frodo-sized, 10-seat Little Red Shed is our favorite—strewn about 38 hilly acres of gardens, golf courses and vineyards, most with a seamless view of the Columbia River Gorge. Best of all, after you realize you’ve had a little too much to drive home on, you can crash in one of the 100 or so well-appointed rooms in the 96-year-old Georgian manor that crowns the property. (2126 SW Halsey St, Troutdale, 503-669-8610)

 

PORTLAND CITY GRILL
What you’re drinking:
At least two fruity, six-syllable martinis

As much as our inner Bukowski wants to roll our eyes at this big fish tank in the sky, the knee-buckling, Blade Runner-esque view of downtown Portland from 30 stories up softens even the most cirrhotic of livers. During the frenzied happy hour, the bar takes on the feel of a jumbo jetliner without curtains: First-class debutantes, business-class PowerPoint heroes and the lowly coach chattel all squeezed together, though equal in the eyes of the overwhelmed bartender and bustling waitstaff. Now tip back your fancy-pants martini glass and drink in that glowing neon cityscape below. (111 SW Fifth Ave, 30th Floor, 503-450-0030)