Portland, Oregon, has no shortage of hidden gems and hipster hangouts, but one lounge in particular should be on your list the next time you venture to the Pacific Northwest. The Secret Society is no underground bar today but it has the feel of an early 20th century hideout for artists, musicians, and fraternities. You half expect to see Hemingway and Gertrude Stein sitting in the corner pouring over a manuscript.
The lounge barely seats 50 and is perfect for an intimate date, friendly outing, or even a solo night out. I found myself sitting at the bar with a book on a rare night to myself, and I felt right at home.
The food and drink menu—including a wide selection of absinthe—is further proof that Portland deserves its reputation for creative cocktails and fare that rivals New York City’s best. I ordered the grilled cheese with arugula alongside a Moscow Mule and enjoyed it so much that a few chapters later, and to the surprise of the bartender, I ordered a second round of both the sandwich and the drink.
Other fun menu items include Bob’s Redmill Popcorn, which you can order with butter and sea salt or olive oil, black pepper, and Parmesan; the Ploughman’s Board, which comes with artisan cheeses, seasonal vegetables, apples and sliced baguette; and Spanish Coffee Crème Brulèe for dessert.
In the room next door, the ballroom books bands that celebrate Portland’s eclectic music scene, some, such as The Swingtown Vipers or Baby & the Pearl Blowers, bring you back to 1920’s-era jazz with clarinets, horns, and a stand-up bass, building on the illusion that you really have stepped back in time. The Secret Society also holds a variety of spoken word and art events in addition to private parties, wine tastings, and weddings. And for the musicians among you, they also offer a 1,200 square foot recording studio.
Of all the hipster spots fighting for attention in Portland, this is one that deserves a detour. Check their event calendar and plan for an evening filled with prohibition-style dinner, drinks, and dancing.