Monday 10th, June 2013 / 22:58


booze1It may not have New York’s pizza or the history of Chicago, but in a relatively short time, the city of Portland has established itself as a mecca of all things hand crafted. Portlandia-driven hipster jokes aside, their breweries, wineries, distilleries and restaurants are world-class, with new ones seeming to appear daily. These things combined to make Portland the clear choice for our second annual “dudes’ trip” last month. Five guys, 48 hours and no-holds-barred, gluttonous debauchery. Here are a few of our most memorable stops:

Hair of the Dog Brewery: Of all their renowned microbreweries, this one may well be the best. I had a cask-aged “Belgian Beer Geek” sour that was absolutely spectacular. They also offer a selection of bottle aged vintage dated beers that have been slumbering soundly in their cellar, some since as far back as 1994.

Distillery Row: Located in a nondescript warehouse district, Distillery Row is a collection of six micro distilleries that work together to spread the gospel of hand-crafted spirits. The distilleries are more spread out than the name suggests, but the walk between each will help you clear your head after visiting their respective tasting bars. On this trip, we visited New Deal and House Spirits.

Le Pigeon: Nestled in a small room on the colourful east side of the city, this was the scene of our favourite meal in Portland, hands down! Chef Gabriel Rucker is becoming a rock star on the American culinary scene and recently picked up his second James Beard award winning top chef in the Northwest. The food is hearty, with inventive dishes such as acorn crêpes stuffed with bison heart and foie gras carpaccio. The wine list is equally impressive, with eclectic choices and extremely reasonable prices. Life changing!

Lardo: A pork-lover’s paradise, offering a selection of mind-blowing sandwiches, from a perfectly toasted smoked cubano to pork meatball banh mi. The dirty fries were an exceptional find, laced with generous chunks of crisp pork belly, hot peppers and feta. The perfect lunch spot to build a base for a night of drinking!

Kask: The breadth of the back bar at this cocktailing centre is enough to make a liquor lover weep. My favourite libation of the evening was the “Zazarac,” a play on the classic New Orleans cocktail made with one of the worlds most delicious rums, Ron Zacapa 23 Year. A must visit for any cocktail fanatic.

Ground Kontrol: A classic video arcade and nostalgia heaven, they also serve beer! Grab a fistful of quarters, a locally-brewed IPA and lose yourself in the labyrinth of arcade legends such as Tron, Galaga, Street Fighter and Double Dragon. Open until 2:30 a.m. daily, it’s an epic way to end off the evening.

If you’re looking to take a trip this summer and you haven’t yet been to Portland, it deserves some serious consideration, starting and ending with all these spots on your list!

By Jesse Willis