Sidecar 11 — Worth the Ride and/or the Drink?

An Inconspicuous Entrance

An inconspicuous entrance which does not reflect the character of the interior

While there are some expansive Portland bars such as the Horse Brass Pub, Joe’s Cellar (RIP..) and The Twilight Room, there are some interesting establishments occupying confined “hole-in-the-wall” type spaces.

Thebeerchaser has visited a number of these watering holes including Belmont Station, Beer and Hawthorne Hideaway. The latest is a wonderful little bar on N. Mississippi Ave. – Sidecar 11.

According to the owner, this contraption is also a rationale for the name of the bar.

According to the owner, this contraption is also a rationale for the name of the bar.

I was fortunate to share this new venue with my good friend, Larry Paulson.  Larry is the long-time and recently retired Executive Director of the Port of Vancouver.  He is also a former General in the Air Force Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps.  As have been the majority of those I’ve raised mugs with on this Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs, the General is also a lawyer.

"The General" in a Turbine -- (He thought it was a keg....)
“The General” in a Turbine — (He thought it was a gigantic keg….)

 While the entrance to Sidecar 11 is very understated and quite frankly, could be enhanced, one is immediately struck by the character of this little place based on the personalities of the owner and bartender, the décor and, the variety and contents of the cocktails served.

Virtually all the printed comments on this bar are really good and it stands out among the multiple taverns, pubs and bistros which have sprung up on N Mississippi like cavities in non-fluoridated cities (Since Thebeerchaser doesn’t get to vote in the City of Portland, this is a political statement in lieu.)

A nice setting and bartender, ___, makes one feel welcome

A nice setting and bartender, ___, makes one feel welcome

For example, the following two reviews from Yelp in 2012 and 2013 are typical and echo our sentiments:

“Every time I am in the neighborhood and have the time to spare, I will come into Sidecar.  The bartenders are super knowledgeable and really have a passion for what they are doing. 

I never know what to order because everything looks so good. I have my default Manhattan (they make a killer one here) but I will always take the suggestion of whoever is working for a mystery libation.”

“The service has always been on the mark.  The space is small, but well laid out.  If they are busy, the bartender makes a point to communicate that with you and that they will help you. I highly recommend going here, it really is a lovely little bar”

The General and Aaron with Thebeerchaser Logo

The General and Bartender, Aaron, with Thebeerchaser Logo

Both the bartender, Aaron, and the owner, John Cooper, were extremely helpful in the service and telling us about the origin of the bar which opened just in 2011 and was named after its signature drink – the Sidecar.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Signature Cocktails – While Sidecar has some good draft beers – Larry had a Leavenworth Bier’s Bakke Hills Black Lager – it differentiates itself by its signature drinks.  I had an outstanding Lavender Martini (Lavender vodka, Crème de Violette, lemon, sugar and peychaud’s bitters).  Larry “chased” his beer with a superb, Old Fashioned, and I encouraged him to recount (briefly…) some of the memories of his dual careers.

The namesake of this great little bar
“Mississippi Sidecar” – the namesake of this great little bar

Larry Paulson was known in SW Washington as a collaborative leader at the Port.  He  had extremely cooperative relationships with the Longshoremen’s Union and other bargaining units while he was there and they publicly stated their respect at his retirement dinner, which was attended by Washington Senator, Patty Murray.

Paulson espoused Dwight Eisenhower‘s philosophy of leadership: “You don’t lead people by hitting them over the head – that’s assault not leadership.”

And as a military lawyer, he helped resolve problems like jet jockeys flying too low and “strafing” cattle in Eastern Oregon during flight training exercises.

1966 Bordeaux - Aged but not ready for burial....

1966 Bordeaux – Aged but not ready for burial….


The Wine – They feature some excellent and older bottles of wine.  Aaron showed us their featured “old” wine – a 1966 Chateau Talbot Bordeaux – which they opened for tasting on March 5th and the adjective “old” brought me back to reality because it was the year of Thebeerchaser’s graduation from high school….

Adding to the ambiance and the education of the patrons each week is “Tasting Tuesday” – complimentary tasting and discounts on wine – sponsored by various NW wineries.  That night the featured libations were two Prosser Washington, Airfield Winery products – their 2010 Runway Merlot and the 2011 Runway Syrah.

An impressive assortment of wines

An impressive assortment of wines

Of course, the “Airfield” reference evoked a look of nostalgia from the General, who quoted his favorite section of the Air Force Flight Manual: “It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed,” although he admitted never having to litigate the situation.

ArtworkDifferent galleries are showcased every other month. Numerous quality works of art adorned the walls and we met Molly Kovaka, the owner of Studio KO, who was there to comment on each piece of art from her gallery – nice person and a nice touch.

Molly Kovaka - Artist "In Residence" at Sidecar

Molly Kovaka – Artist “In Residence” at Sidecar

The food menu is limited, but we had a great cheese plate and this Yelp review from 2011 is a fitting way to end this post and describe the bar and its menu:

 “We stumbled upon Sidecar 11 during a stroll though the Mississippi neighborhood.  

It turned out to be the best discovery we’ve made in the past year.  The cocktails are AMAZING….Definitely not a drink for the timid… 

All four of us ordered a different salad and loved it.  The salads were simple but at the same time fresh and creative.  The apple, pear, red quinoa salad with maple dressing was the best of the bunch, but all were good.  And the garlic cheese bread?  Killer!”

Sidecar 11        3955 N Mississippisidecar art

Reflecting on Oregon’s Urban-Rural Divide – The Embers Brew House in Joseph, Oregon

In the Heart of Joseph

The Embers Brew House

Thebeerchaser’s bar tour was in a slight rut.  Fascinated by the contention of Kip, owner of Bar of the God’s contention that his establishment was in the midst of Portland’s Barmuda Triangle, I realized I had been sucked into the vortex and had focused too much on SE Hawthorne establishments including:

      Bar of the Gods      Hawthorne Hideaway     Gold Dust Meridian 

Claudia’s   (visited but not yet posted)

As a result, in October I visited the Ship Tavern (not yet posted) in  Multnomah  Village and decided that an Eastern Oregon pub visited on a mini-road trip in late September should be included in my blog.  Thebeerchaser and spouse took a wonderful trip to Eastern Oregon and spent two nights at Wallowa Lake Lodge in Joseph, Oregon.

Wallowa Lake Summit Tramway – Notice the Haze from the Smoke

The scenery was wonderful  – the only problem was that the enormous brush fires in Eastern Oregon and Washington caused a haze which made beautiful Wallowa Lake gray rather than its normal crystal blue.  The smoke even made the view at the top of the Wallowa Lake Tramway impossible to see the other beautiful Eagle Cap peaks.

However, we had a wonderful time at the Embers Brew House (EBH) on a Saturday night in Joseph after dinner at the Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise.

Brew and Dinner at the Bar at Terminal Gravity Brewery and Pub

A Great Place to Visit in Enterprise, Oregon


It was after the tourist season in Joseph and on a Saturday night those at the EBH were mostly locals, hunters and a handful of tourists like us.   Why did we love the Embers?  A clue is in its website:

“The Embers past is firmly rooted in the history of early settlers, business people and today’s locals.  A fire at the present adjacent site of a local grocery store destroyed that property, but The Embers withstood any damage and remained intact, thus the name “The Embers” was born.”

What else made our visit to the EBH memorable?

  • It was the hot-spot in town and the local folk were lively and friendly – a close knit community.  This sign, shown below, posted by the bar embodies the philosophy:

    Not Just a Quote on the Wall…

  • The food was outstanding.  Teresa, the cordial owner and her crew, turned out an absolutely incredible number of pizzas and burgers for the large crowd.
  • Everyone was waiting to either see the Ducks vs. Arizona football game or listen to the Jimmy Bivans Band – a wonderful Boise country-western group that rocked the patio and beer garden area for several hours (you can hear them at three different McMenamin’s from January 12-14th, 2013).

Live Entertainment from Boise – Jimmy Bivins and Friends

  • Mike, a local guy I bonded with wearing a blue Notre Dame sweatshirt, was watching the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game which went down to the wire before the Irish won.  I had listened to the Beavs beat UCLA earlier that day and we talked about both of our alma maters’ undefeated seasons so far      – not realizing what was to come in the next weeks……

Mike, whose daughter also was a ND graduate, was a cool, rugged guy.  He had no airs and was drinking white wine with ice from a plastic cup!   The Notre Dame game ran over a few minutes into the Oregon game, but nobody was going to ask him to change the channel.

Some brief excerpts from reviews on Yelp give an idea why the Embers bustles:

“My husband and I spent the week in Joseph along with 4 other couples. We made it into Embers on 3 different occasions.  The food was excellent; the beer cold, but most of all we enjoyed the staff.”

“Eating a spectacular Greek classic pizza with fresh basil and kalamata olives, outdoors, with a view of the Eagle Cap mountains, while enjoying a beer. It doesn’t get better than that!”                                              

The Bar at the Embers

“We earned our Embers visit with a multi-day backpacking trip in Eagle Cap’s beautiful Lakes Basin. The pizza was a welcome relief after backcountry dehydrated meals. Embers offers plenty of options for the discriminating vegetarian. Their beer list is surprisingly extensive.”

We had eaten dinner earlier at the Terminal Gravity Brewery in nearby Enterprise, which also had a lot of character.  Try their macaroni and cheese and their ESG (Terminal Gravity’s Rye beer, “Extra Special Golden,” might be described as an American golden ale.)

Joseph has several other pubs and even its own brewery.  Take a look at the photos below::

The Hydrant — Where Beer Flows in Joseph



The Outlaw Saloon and Cafe – Another Joseph Bistro



The Stubborn Mule Saloon in Joseph

Mutiny Brewing in Joseph, Oregon

Elkhorn Saloon in Sumpter, Oregon


On our road trip to Wallowa Lake we also went by several old taverns in other Eastern Oregon towns, but did not have time to visit them.  For example, this picture above of The Elkhorn Saloon in Sumpter is a classic old saloon.

It enables one to envision the scene when one western bar patron, named Mike Fink, in the 1800’s unsuccessfully tried to shoot a tin cup of whiskey off the head of his friend – a guy named “Carpenter,” who ended up with a bullet in his head.  Fink became the master of understatement by stating, “Carpenter, you have spilled the whiskey!”      (“Legends of America” – Old West Legends)

Seeing the entrances of the establishments below convinced thebeerchaser that an Eastern Oregon segment of the Bar Tour should be on the agenda next year.

The Lostine Tavern in Lostine, Oregon

It also reminded me of the bar joke about the dog who limps into the bar in Wallowa and yells to the bartender and drinkers:

“I’m looking for the guy who shot my paw….”     


Leave a comment if you know of a bar in Central or Eastern Oregon that should be included in this future Beerchaser Tour.  Shown below are some of the other saloons that beckon:

The Oxbow Saloon in Prairie City

The Range Rider Tavern in Enterprise – Notice that Hunters are Welcome!




And let me conclude with my final western bar joke:

The sheriff bursts through the door of the western saloon and yells:  “I’m looking for Paper Bag Bill – he’s a wanted man.”

A guy at the bar says, “What’s he look like?’ The sheriff says, “Well he has paper bag mask, a newspaper shirt, a crepe paper scarf and a paper bag chaps.”

The bartender asks, “What’s he wanted for?”

The sheriff says, “Rustlin!”

Paper Bag Bill — A “Rustler”….

—————–Eastern Oregon was a great road trip and we will be back to visit the Embers Brew House.  Some people deabate Oregon’s Rural vs. Urban Divide.  Having a beer at a good tavern is just as good in Joseph or Enterprise as it is on SE Hawthorne!

The Embers Brew House    204 North Main Street     Joseph, Oregon

Beerchaser Miscellany

Thebeerchaser’s tour of Portland pubs, taverns and bars and this blog commenced in August 2011.  My education on blog software is continuing and I hope to make it easier in the future to find items on the site; however, it may be helpful until that time to recap the venues reviewed in categories during the last ten months.

The next review will be posted this week and recaps our visit to Interurban, which will be followed by a visit to the historical Mock Crest Tavern.

Neighborhood Bars

  • Brooklyn Park Pub
  • Gladstone Street Pub
  • Hawthorne Hideaway
  • Laurelthirst Public House
  • Muddy Rudder Public House

“Taking the Plunge…”

Dive Bars (Not a negative connotation – see post entitled “Analyzing Dive Bars – Head First” from September)

  • Ash Street Saloon
  • Dixie Tavern
  • Joe’s Cellar
  • Yukon Tavern

Brew Pubs

  • Amnesia Brew Pub
  • Coalition Brew Pub
  • Migration Brew Pub

Miscellaneous Bars and Pubs – In a Class of Their Own

  • The Buffalo Gap Saloon
  • Proust
  • The Twilight Room (Could be considered somewhat of a neighborhood pub but also a traditional  “hang-out” for watering hole for University of Portland students)

Followers  of the blog have asked if I have identified a favorite establishment to this point.  While every visit has been positive, probably two tie as favorites for different reasons:  The Laurelthirst and The Twilight Room.

Beerchasers of the Month

This label above is a misnomer because only five of the ten months have named an “honoree” as follows:

  • Princeton University professor and author of On Bullshit, Dr. Harry Frankfurt
  • Crime novelist, James Crumley
  • Retired chemical engineer and drinker, Harold Schlumburg
  • The bartenders of the Brooklyn Park Pub, the Gladstone Street Pub, Prost and the Twilight Room

Efforts will be made to bestow that honor more frequently, however, my favorite to this point is the esteemed Dr. Frankfurt, who responded to thebeerchaser’s e-mail informing him of the distinction and he became a follower of the blog.

BS Expert – Dr. Harry Frankfurt

Beer-related Lawsuits

Having worked in a law firm for twenty-five years and at the Oregon State Bar prior to that time, I collected a lot of law-related articles and memorabilia. In reviewing old files, I came across my favorite law suit – reported in The Oregonian in 1976. It documents a $53,000 suit filed against the Mount Angel Oktoberfest in Marion County.

The plaintiff, Robert Rispler, claimed the portable toilet he entered at the annual Oktoberfest was pushed over by unruly patrons and he was “violently thrown about inside said portable toilet, became intimately mixed (emphasis supplied) with the contents thereof and sustained a fracture of his right wrist and other contusions and abrasions.”                                                          

A Lawsuit Dr. Frankfurt Might Appreciate

Unfortunately additional research on the results of this suit are beyond the resources of thebeerchaser although a quick search of the internet found two Robert Risplers – one, a 1974 graduate of Reynolds High School in Portland (he would have been too young to drink legally….) and one who is now Director of Accounting at Fannie Mae in Washington DC.  Thebeerchaser avoids political commentary (at times) and will omit any direct or indirect implications related to federal agencies.

Favorite Bar Jokes

Although my archives has more lawyer jokes than bar jokes, this blog needs to return to more relevant topics in this post and will finish with a few bar jokes, which will also grace future posts:

  • A grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Hey, that’s really cool.  We have a drink named after you. The grasshopper looks at him skeptically and says, “You have a drink named Murray?”

  • A piece of toast, a glass of orange juice, some hash browns and a side of eggs walk into a bar and they order four beers.  The bartender says, “I’m sorry we don’t serve breakfast here.”
  • A physician, a nurse, a rabbi and a bulldog walk into a bar and the bartender says, “What is this, some kind of joke?”

Spring Training in Phoenix

Thebeerchaser and spouse were privileged to take in a few games during Spring Training in Phoenix in March.  While the tour of pubs is restricted to Portland, we visited and observed a number, which generated these observations:

It seemed like every bar we passed was jammed with people especially from about 4:30 to 7:00 and not necessarily because of Happy Hours.  It may be that given urban sprawl in this badly planned metropolis, that people don’t try to drive during rush hour and just hit a bar each day.  Rotating designated drivers keep things legal.         

It also seemed that many of the venues had multiple levels to accommodate all the patrons (see pictures below).  Perhaps it was also the hot weather.  It was ironic that it cost $4 for a bottle of water at the baseball games when one could get a PBR for $1.50 at the pub across the street.  It brought to mind, beerchaser of the month, Jame’s Crumley’s  request from his main character, C.W. Sughrue, “I want a beer as cold as my ex-wife’s heart.”

Of special interest was the Irish Pub, shown below, that also served as a saddelry.    

Did you hear the one about the horse that walked into the bar? **

*Bartender says, “Hey! Why the long face?”                     

The Hawthorne Hideaway – Amiable Alliteration

Hawthorne Hideaway

This is a delightful, friendly little neighborhood bar, in a nondescript setting around Southeast 21st and Hawthorne.  It was aptly described by one patron as “Nothing spectacular, definitely not flashy – but Hawthorne Hideaway is great!”

Another regular said, “When you can walk in at 5:30 on a sunny weekend and leave to a dark night sky after 8:00 without realizing how many hours you just wasted, that says something about the enjoyable nature of this place.”  It also bring to mind some constraints on pub habitation from September 2011 Beerchaser of the Month, crime novelist, James Crumley in his novel, The Mexican Tree Duck:                                                    

James Crumley

James Crumley

“Bars can be nice places, comfortable homes away from the loneliness or confusion of home, but nobody – not even the most confirmed degenerate drunk, can spend eighty or ninety hours a week in one.”

There is a good selection of beers:  seven beers on tap, seven bottled beers and five beers in cans including my old favorite, Rainer.  We tried an excellent Fort George Oatmeal Pale Ale on tap.  Happy Hour is every day from 4:00 until 7:00.

People like the decent but cheap food (served until 2 am) and the strong drinks.  The only major complaint from several years of reviews – a female visitor from Salt Lake City.  Although a non-drinker, she complained for over three paragraphs about the tacos, which rates a one-word response from Thebeerchaser:

“Go Back to Utah!”

Evidently Better in Salt Lake City…

And oh yes, the Hawthorne was a bit dark, however, this elicited one of the more creative views of a dingy, dive-bar setting: “It’s dimly lit with a borderline seedy feeling – the low lighting makes everyone look a little better – no need to even wear makeup with that lighting…..”

Distinguishing Characteristics

We talked to Craig, the owner, who said the two differentiators for the bar are the fresh-squeezed juices in all the mixed drinks and the lemonade, and the distinct layout and interior design – one which a set-designer friend developed six years ago when they opened, after surveying the neighbors on what they wanted in the bar.

The layout is quirky as one Portland Barfly reviewer conveys well:

The entrance is timid. Where’s the circulation?  Why is there such dramatic separation between the front and the back – it’s severed?  Where’s your central gathering space?  I don’t understand the logic – why would I go there??

Because it’s AWESOME!

Original but Quirky Art

Original Art??

In the front where there are tables, one can see original (and quirky) art on the walls and old photos of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, the Lone Ranger and Tonto and other icons along with a sign that says, “Come Enlarge Your Brain While Destroying It!” – a marketing slogan for the bar’s trivia night every Monday at 7:30.

Free Pool in the Back Room

The back part of the pub is a large room with several pool tables (patrons love the free pool), big screen TVs video poker and some pinball machines.

The west wall is chock full of old 33 RPM album covers ranging from Count Basie, The Ink Spots and Montovani to Fabian and Elvis’s memorable album “How Great Thou Art!”  – they’re really interesting!

“Rock of Ages…!”

 The Hawthorne Hideaway is a great hang-out and neighborhood pub for a pint!

The Hawthorne Hideaway     2221 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

Another Stop for the Beerchaser Logo