Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Hale Pele

The flaming Krakatoa cocktail at Hale Pele

We kicked off 2023 with a plan to visit a dozen bars around Portland, Oregon over the course of the year. Everything was going along fine until mid-year when we decided to move across town! Selling a house and moving definitely rearranges some priorities, not to mention adds a lot of new projects. Needless to say, this caused our Bar Of The Month tour to slide several months, but we are still committed to the project, and last week we finally picked up where we left off. Hale Pele was the destination and we arrived early in the week—and perhaps more importantly, early in the day—to secure good seats at the bar.

We cannot recall how many visits this makes, but we still fondly remember stepping through the door during their soft-open in awe, and how with each return we bring such high expectations. Every time, the memory of previous visits plus a longing for a Polynesian escape builds the anticipation for fun, fire, and fantastic cocktails. On all points, Hale Pele consistently delivers.

Equipped to handle any modern recipe or classic, Hale Pele is a serious hall of mixology but, of course, it’s a Tiki bar with a menu a mile long filled with incredible tropical treasures. They aren’t cutting corners either—fresh juices, exotic syrups, and spices are all strengths happily employed by the friendly bartenders and servers, and they know how to showcase each drink according to historical traditions. Many garnishes are as complex as the recipes, and the back bar is filled with rums from around the world. For the cocktail enthusiast, it’s hard not to get excited just looking around the place which is decorated like a Disney resort, complete with occasional audiovisual thunderstorm special effects. They even have a rum tasting club for patrons interested in exploring the limits of this spirit that is so important to the genre. And if that weren’t enough, the food is good too! What else can we say? Hale Pele is an indisputable fixture of the Portland bar scene, and one of the best places to get Tiki drinks in the Pacific Northwest, if not the world.

We started with the Krakatoa—a fiery coffee-rum rendition of a drink from the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale. We followed with the Jet Pilot, a cinnamon-spiced concoction with so many ingredients we don’t mind letting someone else make it! We’ve written about plenty of Tiki drinks over the years (with many more to come) proving that you can make these cocktails at home—but often with considerable effort. A visit to Hale Pele allows you to try drinks you might not typically spend the time pulling together. And trust us when we tell you that they are all amazing.

We are looking forward to resuming our tour of bars in Portland in the new year. Here is a link to all of our bar of the month visits in chronological order.

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