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Portland’s Unique Theme Bars

These fun spots set the stage for an evening of time travel, games and great cocktails.
April 3, 2023

If you’re looking for a tropical escape, dungeon or tiki bar, Portland’s got the night out for you. Many of Portland’s taprooms, wine bars and cocktail lounges feature theatrical settings and mood music, where a cocktail in a test tube or a round of mini golf aren’t out of the norm. Here are some of our favorite uniquely themed bars in Portland that serve drinks with a shot of time travel or a dash of eccentricity.

A cocktail is set aflame against a backdrop of gothic and spooky props, including a skull and spiderwebs.
Glowing cocktails and elixirs are served up for a spooky night. Courtesy of Raven's Manor

A Fantasy Night on the Town

For those who love medieval times, fantastic monsters or haunted houses, Portland has you covered. Head downtown to Treebeerd’s Taphouse, a bar inspired by the Lord of the Rings saga that plays the movies on a regular basis and hosts weekly trivia nights. Continue the night at Wyrd Leatherworks and Meadery in Southeast Portland, a venue that fully commits to a medieval fantasy. Sip from the brand’s own house-made meads in a Viking-themed paradise, while browsing the leather-crafts shop to the soundtrack of Nordic metal and musical scores to video games. 

If you celebrate Halloween all year long, you’re always invited to show up in costume at Raven’s Manor. The haunted-mansion-themed cocktail parlor in Southwest Portland decks out its interior with spooky decor, serving glowing cocktails out of beakers and test tubes presented with dry ice, smoke and flames. Be sure to reserve the Elixir Experience for an interactive night out, where a set of spooky challenges invite you to craft your own cocktail concoctions while exploring the manor’s hidden dungeons and laboratories.

A person plays a hole of mini golf in a colorful setting.
Play a round of mini golf between sips of craft beer. Courtesy of Birdie Time Pub

Come for the Party, Stay for the Games

Whether you’re gathering a large group or trying to celebrate a special occasion, game-themed bars are sure to brighten the party. Play old-school pinball and 8-bit Pac-Man at Ground Kontrol, a two-floor barcade in Old Town/Chinatown hosting one of the world’s largest selections of the classics. Sip on video game-inspired cocktails like the Princess Peach, featuring peach schnapps, enjoy a casual gaming night or sign up for a competitive tournament

If video games aren’t your speed, test your ping-pong skills at Pips & Bounce in Southeast Portland. The social club invites visitors to hit the tables on their own, in teams or in private-party suites, set to the colorful neon backdrop of cosmic blacklights on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Portland’s rainy days are perfect for teeing off at the Birdie Time Pub, also in Southeast. Toast your competitors with a spiked seltzer or Mulligan Mule cocktail, then test your skills with the spacious indoor mini-golf course, virtual-reality golf games and outdoor badminton for summer fun. 

Cheer on the Thorns, Portland’s unstoppable women’s soccer team, at The Sports Bra. The pub has all the familiar comforts of a sports bar, from the massive television screens to burgers and beers on tap, and it champions women’s sports and female athletes. Look for your favorite players in the display of trophies and jerseys.

Travel Back in Time

For an island escape that’s straight from the 1960s tiki craze, check out Hale Pele. The tropical cocktail lounge serves mai tais and Fogcutters inside a space decked out in multicolored lighting and Polynesian totem poles. Share a flaming bowl of rum punch or the signature Volcano Bowl, which arrives amidst clouds of fog, as erupting volcano sounds blare from the speakers. Bring your bell bottoms to Sugar Hill, a ’70s-themed cocktail bar with a retro interior in Southeast Portland. Dance the night away with DJ nights on the regular, in between sips of High Life and bites of classic corn dogs.

For thoughtful interpretations of Prohibition-style cocktails, slip back to the 1920s at Bible Club, a speakeasy operating out of a historic Sellwood home dating back to 1922. In Beaverton check out a similar speakeasy, Bootleggers, a Prohibition-themed bar in a saloon-style environment that specializes in whiskey, including rare WhistlePig vintages and local distillers.

Interior shot of a wood-paneled restaurant seating area.
Inside the historic wood-paneled Imbrie Hall at McMenamin's Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. Courtesy of Kathleen Nyberg / McMenamins

Flowers and Barns Near Portland

Dreaming of a cottagecore getaway? For your first stop, try one of these Portland Region destinations. Flora — located atop the Beaverton location of Loyal Legion beer hall — mixes fresh, plant-based beverages flavored with botanicals like lemongrass, sage or aloe in an intimate setting that’s enrobed in lush floral wallpaper. Plan ahead for your date night — the cocktail lounge is reservation-only.

Throughout Portland and much of the metropolitan area, there’s also a good chance you’ll be near a McMenamins, the Pacific Northwest-based chain known for its renovated historic spaces and multibar campuses filled with quirky artworks. In Hillsboro visit Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, located in a converted farmhouse that dates back to the mid-1850s. Sip housemade cider and ale underneath the rafters of Imbrie Hall, a barn named after the family who once settled there. For an even cozier feel, step inside the candlelit Little White Shed, a milk-storage room that serves pints and cigars with an old-school wood stove on colder nights.

About The

Katrina Yentch
Katrina Yentch is a freelance journalist and copywriter living in Portland. When she isn't writing, she's either napping, cooking Thai food, or planning her next backpacking trip.

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