The Brazen Bean just made happy hour happier

I’m sure that my faithful readers wonder where such a superiorfood critic would condesend to work. Now’s your chance to findout!

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

While Brazen’s $7 martinis may be a little to spendy for astudent’s budget, there is hope in sight. For the past 7-and-a-halfyears, the Brazen Bean has offered the best happy hour in Portland.From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, the Brazen offersnearly 30 martinis for the meager price of $3. Martinis range fromthe fruity Apple, Peach and Pomegranate to the minty IMA Gimlet,prepared with fresh mint and gin. Also offered during happy hourare a number of Brazen’s house-specialty infusions, which you won’tfind 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. Thislight, summery concoction is very cantaloupey and really fantastic.Also, the Left Bank martini, consisting only of savory rosemaryvodka, is as unordinary as it is strong, and it’ll knock your socksoff, so be careful.

Brazen has a number of floral creations that are quite uniqueand also really tasty. Take the Pink martini, a vodka, cranberry,and rose water concoction that reminds you of a walk through therose garden. Although a clever and well-balanced combination, thisone 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. Thismartini is really incredible.

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

And the list goes on and on, stretching far beyond theincredibly cheap happy-hour martini menu. Brazen Bean also has anextensive list of signature cocktails and margaritas. My personalfavorite has to be the Cucumber Kamakazi, prepared with muddledcucumber, vodka, triple sec and lime. As far as margaritas areconcerned, I highly recommend the Pear Sage, with muddled sage,Sauza Commemerativo, pear puree and lime. This unorthodoxcombination is genius, and you won’t find another like it in all ofPortland.

The Brazen Bean has some food as well, although I recommend youconsider the cocktails to be Brazen’s main attraction. But if youwish to impress a date after dinner, Brazen has a number ofdelicious deserts. My favorite is the chocolate fondue with freshstrawberries, kiwi, banana, and angel food cake.

If you’re looking to get shwilly, Brazen Bean is a great placeto do it. The cocktails are fantastic, and the atmosphere, althoughsometimes smoky, is accommodating. So put some Brazen cocktails inyour mouth!