Say what you will about hotel bars that try to do it all—they might meet expectations, but how often do they really exceed them? It's not easy to cater to guests of an adjacent hotel, deliver a solid menu of small plates to a downtown happy hour crowd, feature beer, wine and drink deals, all while maintaining an impressive wall of whiskey that supports a fantastic craft cocktail menu that could keep any mixology geek happy all night. Fortunately, Red Star Tavern has Brandon Lockman behind the stick keeping everything in perfect balance using scratch syrups, tinctures and fresh ingredients, succeeding where others might waver.
The place is spacious but does not get very loud. It combines the elegance of wood paneling with sports screens—capturing a wide customer profile without making anyone feel out of place. The food is delicious with plenty of inexpensive options during happy hour (which lasts until 8pm!), and the staff is attentive and friendly. They even have a "hidden" speakeasy area behind the far bookshelf for special events and private parties. Between its premium downtown location and flexible beverage selection, Red Star Tavern may be the most underrated bar in Portland.
Montego Bay (far drink pictured here)