Put it in your mouth

I’m sure that my faithful readers wonder where such a superior food critic would condesend to work. Now’s your chance to find out!

The Brazen Bean on N.W. Glisan is a really cool, dark, designy little drinking hole that offers some of Portland’s most delicious cocktails. Nestled just out of sight in an old Victorian house, this hidden oasis provides the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a well-crafted martini.

While Brazen’s $7 martinis may be a little to spendy for a student’s budget, there is hope in sight. For the past 7-and-a-half years, the Brazen Bean has offered the best happy hour in Portland. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, the Brazen offers nearly 30 martinis for the meager price of $3. Martinis range from the fruity Apple, Peach and Pomegranate to the minty IMA Gimlet, prepared with fresh mint and gin. Also offered during happy hour are a number of Brazen’s house-specialty infusions, which you won’t find anywhere else. They infuse four different vodkas: cantaloupe, lemon, citrus and rosemary. The cantaloupe martini’s is served up (in a martini glass) like nearly all of Brazen’s creations. This light, summery concoction is very cantaloupey and really fantastic. Also, the Left Bank martini, consisting only of savory rosemary vodka, is as unordinary as it is strong, and it’ll knock your socks off, so be careful.

Brazen has a number of floral creations that are quite unique and also really tasty. Take the Pink martini, a vodka, cranberry, and rose water concoction that reminds you of a walk through the rose garden. Although a clever and well-balanced combination, this one is a little too perfumy for my taste. There are Orange Blossom, Hibiscus and Lavender martinis, as well. I recommend the Lavender, consisting of flower syrup made in-house, gin and lime. This martini is really incredible.

The happy-hour menu includes a number of liquor-based martinis as well. Pure alcohol, these drinks are as strong as they are … well, strong. The following martinis promise to warm your belly and lift your spirits on a winter’s night: the Black Haus martini, a vodka-based martini mixed with Black Haus blackberry liquor, served with a slice of kiwi; the Cherry martini, with amaretto; the Orange Crush, with Grand Marnier and amaretto; and the Sambucca, with vodka and licorice-flavored anisette.

And the list goes on and on, stretching far beyond the incredibly cheap happy-hour martini menu. Brazen Bean also has an extensive list of signature cocktails and margaritas. My personal favorite has to be the Cucumber Kamakazi, prepared with muddled cucumber, vodka, triple sec and lime. As far as margaritas are concerned, I highly recommend the Pear Sage, with muddled sage, Sauza Commemerativo, pear puree and lime. This unorthodox combination is genius, and you won’t find another like it in all of Portland.

The Brazen Bean has some food as well, although I recommend you consider the cocktails to be Brazen’s main attraction. But if you wish to impress a date after dinner, Brazen has a number of delicious deserts. My favorite is the chocolate fondue with fresh strawberries, kiwi, banana, and angel food cake.

If you’re looking to get shwilly, Brazen Bean is a great place to do it. The cocktails are fantastic, and the atmosphere, although sometimes smoky, is accommodating. So put some Brazen cocktails in your mouth!