Belmont barhopping: stay close, go far

It’s Saturday night and I’m feeling a little thirsty, so I shoot a text message to my friend. I consider texting another friend while I wait for the first friend’s response, but quickly I begin to realize how boring and time consuming this venture is sure to become.

I hate mass texts, but I send one anyway. I guess you could say I’m “that asshole.”

A few minutes pass, and I contemplate what planning an entire night via text message says about me as a person. Suddenly my inbox is exploding with texts, and I abandon my existential dilemma to tend to them. Apparently everyone else is thirsty, too.

“Let’s hit the bars downtown,” one reads.

“I’d rather impale myself with a dull pencil,” I think to myself.

Some people are content to defer to the downtown scene, but not me. No, I prefer an adventure—a night in which I’m sure to encounter some interesting people and exciting things.

“If I wanted to go to a frat party I would’ve asked if anyone was down to drive to Corvallis,” I responded.

Maybe a little harsh, but I wanted her to know I meant business.

After a few minutes of having the same conversation with multiple people, I decided to make a decision.

Another mass text (yes, I really do suck sometimes): “Belmont or bust, bitches. Sweet Hereafter, 9 p.m.”

The journey to Hereafter

Walking through the charming streets of Southeast Portland to my barhopping destination, I welcome a few strange encounters. Two men standing on the corner are howling at the moon. A block later, someone has decided to park a car on the sidewalk.

“Oh Portland,” I think to myself with a grin on my face.

I arrive at Sweet Hereafter to a bustling scene of trendy 20-somethings forming a long line to the bar.

“Suckers,” I think to myself as I cut corners and find some vacant standing room at the other end.

Five minutes later, I have a Hereafter—the establishment’s namesake cocktail—in hand. The line a few yards away from me has grown, and from what I gather, the same people are still at the front.

It’s a dog eat dog world on the east side of the river, don’t they know?

Whatever, I’ve got a Hereafter and my friends have managed to snag a table against all odds. I take my seat and place my drink on top of the table to join the army of mason jars full of hard alcohol masquerading as fruity tea.

Few people have attempted two Hereafters in one night, and none of those nights have ended well. In the interest of hitting multiple bars, I decide tonight is not the night for doubling up on a jar full of straight liquor. Maybe next time.

Twenty minutes later, I’m halfway through my Hereafter. I do a little algebra and decide that the addition of 15 minutes will result in a sum of 40 percent drunkenness.

I was never any good at math.

After finishing our Hereafters in record-breaking fashion, we decide it would be cool to keep drinking without walking very far. We stroll a few doors down the same block and arrive at our second destination.

Back in the days of ‘33

Circa 33 is usually a happening place on the weekends, but something is different this time around. People are dressed like they belong in a speakeasy, which is all the more confusing considering that’s exactly what Circa 33 is.

The atmosphere up front is cool, but there’s a live band and it’s sort of cramping my style. We pay no mind to the flapper-dress time warp and head straight for the secret bar in back.

I can’t help but feel like Shaggy and the gang as I pull the appropriate book from the wall and enter the secret code. I could tell you what the code is, but that would strike the secret from the bar. In fact, I think I’ve already said too much.

The secret bar is just as abuzz with prohibition-era costumes as the front, but I’m too excited about the open dartboard to care. Sipping a delicious modern-era beer in an old-timey setting, I engage in dart combat as if the repeal of the 18th Amendment depends on my win.

As timing would have it, my dartboard victory did not coincide with the shuffleboard freeing up. Sometimes life builds you up just to throw you back down.

Feeling temporarily defeated but consistently drunk, I rally the crew with promises of a greasy, fried-food haven. Say the words “cheesy tots” to a gaggle of drunk chicks and watch pandemonium ensue.

With sights set on our third and final destination, we stumble across the street to Belmont Inn. But not before looking both ways, of course.

Carpet bar chronicles

Nothing says “end of the night” like a carpet bar, and Belmont Inn is everything you’d want in an end-of-the-night pub. Pool tables, Buck Hunter, an honorable tap list (for a bar of its kind) and sweet, tasty, delicious fried food.

I refer to Belmont Inn as my 1:30 a.m. bar, and I do so amicably.

We scour the menu. We want everything.

Ten minutes later, the table is rich with fried foods of every variety. Mac ‘n’ cheese bites, mozzarella sticks, cheesy tots with ranch—it really doesn’t get any better.

Ten more minutes and the table is a barren wasteland of empty baskets. All that remains is the evidence of what came before it: grease-stained paper and crumbs.

My stomach is about to burst and as I gaze into the golden hues of my half pint of dry hopped pale ale, I am confronted by a horrible realization.

“I can’t finish my beer,” I declare shamefully.

Someone tells me to saddle up and put on my big-girl panties.

Challenge accepted. After all, Goonies never say die.