NW 21st Avenue bar crawl

We assembled a strong crew at the house on the hill: myself, the Ladyfriend, the Roommate and the Corvillain, up for a night of serious drinking in our new West Side environs.

A pre-heat growler of Mt. Hood Ice Axe IPA and we’re off, headed to drive around in circles looking for a spot to abandon the Ladyfriend’s car. 19th and Kearney. I write down the intersection so I know where to look for it tomorrow afternoon. No one is driving out of here tonight.

In order to get the night really moving, we decide to start at Pope House Bourbon Lounge. Swanky gold wallpaper, horse-racing prints on the walls and every table filled with people staring lovingly into amber glasses of deliciousness. A table opens up right as we arrive—good sign—and we are presented with a hefty bourbon list—even better sign.

I have never tried Cyrus Noble, so I order one on the rocks and am asked if I want a bunch of little ice cubes or one big one. Love this place already. One giant ice cube please. The Roommate has a “Birthday Flight” of Old Forester and the Ladyfriend puts down her first drink—a perfectly serviceable Moscow Mule—in one go. The night is looking good already.

You need to build a good base of fried starchy food when overindulging responsibly, so we ordered a couple plates of their bacon and scallion hush puppies with remoulade. The puppies were dark but not overcooked, as if they had been cooked in a fryer that needs its oil changed. They’re still hush puppies though, so not altogether bad.

A more substantial snackfest is in order, so off we go down the treacherous Pope House stairs onto 21st Avenue proper. I have to stop the guys from instinctively following a gaggle of high heels into Bartini so we can try Dark Horse Pub, the new place that has taken over the spot formerly occupied by O’Brien’s.

There is not a whole lot of character to be had at Dark Horse, which is reportedly a big improvement from its former incarnation. There’s Olympics and the Blazers on the TV, sing-along music at a moderate volume and a Wonder-Bratender that the Roommate falls in love with immediately. We snack on some baked brie with baguette and apple slices but decide to wait for the next stop for a full dinner. After a couple pints of Worthy IPA and some Olympic speedskating where the Americans utterly failed to make it interesting, we rolled down the street to 21st Avenue Bar and Grill.

21st Avenue Bar and Grill is the kind of place that every nightlife neighborhood has: a lowest common denominator filter where you end up at the end of the night, or as soon as you’re drunk enough. We aren’t yet, but we’re working on it.

Waiting to get into the bathroom I realize that I’m not waiting for one person to finish and exit, but a couple. They open the door and wander back to their table a little sheepishly, and I decide that I don’t actually need to use the restroom right now.

Reinforcements arrive in the form of Brother Joe, one of his co-workers from the factory where they attach laser guns to the heads of sharks, and a couple of lovely ladies. Greasy cheeseburgers and Italian chicken sandwiches are ordered, and I bet the Roommate that a round of tequila shots will make it to the table faster than the food. Seven Patróns and one Fireball (boo!) later; everyone wins the bet.

Homegirl at the table next to us passed out for long enough to actually get thrown out, so we finally have a table big enough for everyone. This bar crawl has come to a grinding halt, but I sit back with my guacamole and bacon-covered burger and let the conversation flow around me, feeling pretty content and enjoying the company of some of my favorite people in the world.

There’s discussion of recent dates, wedding plans and a revelation of a hookup the rest of us missed an hour ago at Dark Horse—apparently that bathroom sees a lot of action. We hang out for a few more drinks, just about long enough for the Ladyfriend to extract a promise from me to monitor her vital signs for the rest of the night. Yes dear, have another Tic Tac.

I remind the troops that we are, in fact, barhopping, and everyone rallies up and out the door. We stop by Blue Moon, but two steps inside we realize it’s a McMenamins. There are plenty of McMenamins that are in cooler buildings, or that host nightly live music, so we decide to skip it in the interest of finding new places.

Back down the block, across the street from where we just were, we find ourselves at Muu Muu’s. I’m no longer in much of a condition to notice atmosphere, but there’s a giant painting of Heath Ledger (maybe?) on one wall and they have Boneyard! They also have a server in hipster glasses who seems to have already used up her entire supply of smiles for the evening.

After cashing out with sourpuss, we stand on the street outside for a moment, debating our next move. The prevailing sentiment is to head closer to home base before last call. Maybe we should hit Suki’s or the Cheerful Tortoise, where there are surly bartenders we know and love.

Either way, it’s definitely time to abandon our foray into N.W. 21st Avenue barhopping. As soon as I stumble off this street, the reporting ends. The rest of this night is off the record.