[All photos: Ted Axelrod]
Portland does not have the precious, takes-itself-too-seriously cocktail culture of, (ahem), some other cities, and for that, we can be thankful. What it does have are fine places to enjoy a well-made, (please, not "crafted") signature drink - from the classics to more modern interpretations. And fine people to mix them, too. At Hugo's, Roxanne Dragon perfects the Manhattan with Old Overholt rye and whiskey-barrel-aged bitters. For Eventide next door, she plays with tiki tradition to concoct The Walking Dead, a potent rum/juice combo with house-made grenadine and an umbrella, of course. Alicja Bronk-Zdunowski at Bar Lola on Munjoy Hill is known for her version of the Ward 8, a bourbon-based, late 19th century libation made famous at Boston's Locke-Ober. Vignola Cinque Terre goes local with a Blueberry Cosmo, shaken up by Jessica Streitburger and featuring Cold River Blueberry Vodka, distilled just up the road in Freeport. Over at Gingko Blue, her brother (yes, this is a small city) Guy Streitburger, creates inventive cocktails like Catcher in the Rye, made with hot new spirit Bulleit Rye Whiskey, and has the quote of the day: "I'd rather make a drink than pour a drink." We'll raise a glass to that.
If, in our tribute to the Portland women and men and the drinks that make happy hour happy, we've missed your favorite bar, bartender or cocktail, make your toast in the comments. And don't forget to tip.Read More