Room Service

If your notion of hotel bars still includes sepia-toned scenes of traveling salesmen pinching waitresses and getting bombed on coco locos, allow us to bring you up to date. The stately and dignified hotel bar is well stocked with spirits, top-notch service and lonely travelers in need of companionship. And if you’d like to pretend you’re a wealthy diplomat with a dark secret, it’s OK in our book.

 

TOP SHELF

BENSON HOTEL
What you’re drinking:
A 37-year-old Highland Park scotch, neat
Should Portland’s casual airs make you long for a touch of social grace, we suggest you slip into the lobby of the Benson Hotel and head straight to the bar. If the 30-foot-tall molded ceilings and multistoried chandelier dripping with crystal don’t instantly elevate your station, then give the purple-and-gold leopard-spotted banquette a little stroke. Notice the polish on the recently renovated oak bar, the golden tassels on the curtains, the beveled glass that lets light in (but obscures unseemly views of the street). Then call over the most attractive bartender, the one with pomade in his hair and a bow tie worn snugly round his neck, and order a manhattan. Have two while pondering the huge stone urn in the corner and the wall of bottles behind the bar, or that ritzy-looking man with the tan suitcase in the corner (obviously a power player just in from Hollywood for the evening). Ponder long enough, and you might begin to believe that Broadway outside has been transformed into the real thing. What you’ll know for certain is that opulence, thank heaven, is not a thing of the past. (309 SW Broadway, 503-228-2000)


THE DRIFTWOOD ROOM
What you’re drinking: A Rita Hayworth
With a name like the Driftwood Room, one might imagine a bar with a nautical theme, its walls coated with ship’s wheels and fishing nets. But this darkly lit (dare we say cavelike?) bar, set discreetly off the lobby of the Hotel Deluxe, is more like a rendezvous locale for vintage-clothed hipsters or a posse convened by David Lynch. Pale-yellow couches undulate beneath exposed-brick walls at the bar’s elegant cul de sac. It’s a piece of drinking real estate desirable for its views of the room and also for the abundance of shadows where a couple can easily disappear—into either a vodka haze or a lusty mood. (729 SW 15th Ave, 503-223-6311)


THE HEATHMAN
What you’re drinking: A Hemingway daiquiri
There is something distinctly theatrical about the Heathman’s drinking spots—as in, they make you feel like you’re onstage. Consider the Tea Court, where an Austrian chandelier and a roaring fireplace recall a European villa (there’s no better place for a toddy). Or perhaps the library perched on the balcony above (though not technically a bar, it’s still an ideal place for another glass of wine and deep conversations). Or the French bistro-like Marble Bar, where leather stools line the glass windows of Broadway. It’s here that one should, after touring the various stages, play out the evening’s dénouement with your blushing co-star. (1001 SW Broadway, 503-790-7752)