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Cocktailing reason enough for Portland weekend escape
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Looking for somewhere to cocktail vigorously and show off those new Chip and Pepper jeans? Think Portland. At two and-a-half hours by car or three and-a-half hours by train (www.Amtrak.com, $60 RT coach, $85 RT business), the Rose City is a terrific overnight or weekend escape from Seattle. Currently in the midst of an upscale makeover, Portland is home to great restaurants, trendy bar-lounges, numerous shopping malls and department stores, and friendly locals. The city's light rail and functional bus system allow easy and affordable access to all neighborhoods and suburbs. For Gay travelers, visit www.travelportland.com/glbt. On a recent trip to the Rose City, my itinerary consisted of nothing more than checking into a nice hotel and hitting the town for a night of all-out partying. If your inner partier beckons for an overnight or weekend-full of good times, here's where I suggest barhopping at in Portland.

STAY
Hotel deLuxe
729 SW 15th Avenue
www.hoteldeluxeportland.com

A fabulous place to begin your Portland visit is Hotel deLuxe, literally blocks from downtown's main streets and a 10-15 minute walk from Union Station. This seven-floor property brings film buffs and film icons together as it pays homage to Hollywood's Golden Age of cinema with nearly 400 movie stills in its guest rooms, hallways, and grand lobby. From Judy Garland to Alfred Hitchcock, Audrey Hepburn to Orson Welles, Ginger Rogers to Billy Wilder, and Joan Fontaine to Frederico Fellini, the most prominent filmmakers of the '30s-'50s are displayed throughout Hotel deLuxe. Glitzy and glamorous, the 130-room Pearl District haven has undoubtedly become a favorite amongst Gay travelers venturing to Portland. At Hotel deLuxe, expect star treatment with spacious rooms that include firm beds and crisp linens, HDTV flatscreen televisions, complimentary business center privileges (with Internet access), high-speed wireless connections, fitness center, MP3 docking stations, choose-your-own pillow menu, and a spiritual menu that allows guests to select their in-room reading material according to their personal faiths, from Buddhist to Catholic. The service is top notch, setting is divine, very Gay-friendly atmosphere, and its centralized location puts you within steps of Portland's trendiest nightspots. For a fun-packed agenda in the Rose City, home base should definitely be Hotel deLuxe.

DRINK
Driftwood Room
729 SW 15th Avenue
www.hoteldeluxeportland.com

Start your cocktailing mission with an elevator ride down to the lobby of Hotel deLuxe and a stop at the Driftwood Room. Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Aniston made this chic, intimate lounge her favorite hangout while shooting Management in Portland. The Emmy-winning actress and film co-star Steve Zahn beelined from their movie set to the Driftwood Room, where silver screen-themed drinks are poured ever so marvelously such as the North by Northwest (Stoli raspberry, cointreau, fresh-squeezed lime juice), the Rita Hayworth (Sauza blanco, mango puree, triple sec), and Brando's Exile (Bacardi limon, Absolut citron, fresh sweet & sour, passion fruit puree). On the evening I dropped by, a cheery bartender introduced a visiting Gay couple (also from Seattle) and I to a smooth, lush pear brandy. Bar menu items are reasonably priced, each $10 or under, including mac 'n' cheese, meatballs with spicy tomato sauce, salt cod fritters, pita pizza, and its signature Gracie's Burger with the usual fixin's. Sophisticated types of all groups gather at the Driftwood Room for drinks, and vow always to return.

Gilt Club
306 NW Broadway
www.giltclub.com

A seven- to ten-minute walk, depending on your pace, from the Driftwood Room on the active Broadway strip is Gilt Club. Unpretentious hipsters (yes, there is such a thing), Gay and straight, are permanent fixtures at this roomy restaurant-lounge. Gilt Club's devotion to making excellent - never just satisfactory - cocktails is key to retaining its loyal clientele. Everyone who's been here before knows they'll get a quality drink, and routinely new inventions are created using the bar's house-made infused vodkas, gins, and tequilas. On a recent visit, my bartender had me sample two fresh concoctions and I quickly fell head over heels for the Kumquat Old Fashioned (muddled kumquats and amarena cherry, house-made orange bitters, Bulleit bourbon, Seattle-produced kumquat soda). Other tempting sips include the Pink Martini (house vanilla vodka with cranberry, pineapple, fresh lemon, sugar rim), the BLT (Roma tomato vodka, muddled basil, fresh lemon, real bacon salt rim), and the Obscene (Vidalia onion and cracked pepper infused gin, olive juice, blue cheese olives). Ask for the "Bartender's Mood" and pray he or she is having a good day. Full dinners are served through last call, such as buffalo short ribs, Russet potato gnocchi, pan-seared duck, and crispy skin cod. For light appetites, go for the three-cheese assortment plate. Gilt Club will soon open a nightclub in its basement, offering local patrons and visiting guests a one-stop locale to eat, drink, and strut their stuff. The ambiance is cool, mood is upbeat, crowd is hip and diverse in age, and the cocktails are truly splendid.

Teardrop Lounge
1015 NW Everett Street
www.teardroplounge.com

Two blocks from Gilt Club on well-known Everett Street is Teardrop Lounge, a popular hotspot for Gay trendsetters. The bar - shaped like a teardrop - provides eye candy views from all angles, making it a perfect place to get noticed and hook up with someone. You can say the drinks here are pretty, because they are. But they're also fresh and imaginative, like the Janus Hopes (bourbon, blood orange-rosemary marmalade, smoked white peppercorn), the Cyclone Ranger (pisco, filbert orgeat, chipotle-chocolate bitters), the Jack Rabbit (applejack brandy, Satsuma mandarin, lemon, Vermont maple syrup), and the Blue Moon Fizz (tequila, ugli fruit, agave nectar, egg white, soda). An impressive roster of sakes is available, either by the glass or bottle. Nibbles, all $15 and under, include duck confit tostadas, chai-braised lamb shoulder, seared garlic shrimp, and spiced edamame. With great energy and an attractive flow of mostly locals, Teardrop Lounge is unsurprisingly busy on the weekends. On my recent swing-by, a glass of red wine complimented the house-trance music playing overhead, and I was tickled with a selection of possibilities for post-clubbing company back at my hotel. This is definitely the place to break in that just-purchased Diesel shirt and meet the next Mr. Right Now.

Doug Fir Lounge
830 E. Burnside
www.dougfirlounge.com

A five-minute taxi ride from the Teardrop Lounge, over the Burnside Bridge, will deliver you to the Doug Fir Lounge. You might recognize the bar's name if you're a music fan, a longtime concert venue that has hosted many indie artists from Spoon to Matt Costa, We Are Scientists to She Wants Revenge, and an upcoming performance by Queer rocker Bob Mould. The concept here is to feel like you're inside a lodge or cabin - make that an urban lodge or cabin. But it's an extremely loved place for alternative Gays and straights to mingle over beers or original cocktails, such as the Blackberry Cosmo (muddled fresh lemon and blackberries, Stoli, triple sec, fresh mint), the Vanilla Drop (Stoli vanilla, triple sec, fresh muddled citrus, sugar rim), and Lil' Sunshine (Bacardi rum, muddled lemons, sour, grenadine). Doug Fir Lounge is really famous for its food, especially those looking for late-night bites or morning hangover breakfasts. Burgers, sandwiches, soups, scrambles, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, and the sought-after Logger's Breakfast are godsends at any time of the day. Personally, the Bossanova Scramble - eggs, pesto, tomato and parmesan cheese, served with oven-roasted rosemary potatoes - is a heavenly thing to wake up to after a long, productive night of cocktailing. If you see a rock band in the house, or on the grounds of the Jupiter Hotel, chances are they're playing that night. Doug Fir Lounge is a cool spot to bring the evening to a close, and they've always got hot bartenders pouring the brews.
 

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