We expect to find high-concept cocktails, the likes of which send sidecars spinning, at such dedicated drinking dens as the Brazen Bean and Colosso. But it's the colorful drinks lurking where you might least suspect them that can be the most decadent treats.

Next time you're in a gin-and-tonic rut, snap out of it at one of these tippler's havens.


Stickers' original drinks are just as spunky as its pan-Asian menu Ñ which, by the way, offers very good satay in addition to the fine pork and vegetable pot stickers. The spooky Ninja is a martini with a different kind of twist: It's made with Blavod, a vodka brand that infuses the spirit with the highly tannic herb catechu to color it black. The rest of the house cocktails, from the feisty Mao-tini to the creamy Thai Tiger, are alternately bitter and sweet.

6808 S.E. Milwaukie Ave., 503-239-8739

La Calaca Comelona

'The Hungry Skeleton' is a favorite Mexican hole in the wall for the superlative tostadas and grilled dinners, amiable service and horizon-broadening drinks. And in mid-May, the little place will grow a bit bigger when La Calaca Comelona moves up to Southeast Belmont Street. Owner Patricia Cabrera says the restaurant will retain its full liquor license and same menu.

The cocktails boast excellent names, such as Vampiro, a spicy drink that has plenty of bite, and Lun‡tico, a mix of vodka or gin with blue curaao, lime juice and 7-Up. One warm-weather special not to be missed is the fermented pineapple juice over crushed ice, with or without a shot of vodka.

1408 S.E. 12th Ave. until mid-May; 2304 S.E. Belmont St. thereafter, 503-239-9675

La Carreta

Compared to the wealth of wonderful Mexican fare in Portland, La Carreta's food is nothing to seek out. But if you're in the market for a mind-altering cocktail, this welcoming cantina will do you right. Served in a bowl bigger than some island nations, La Cazuela Ñ a deadly mix of rum, fruit juices and God knows what else Ñ should be undertaken with a friend. This sweet concoction is more of an event than a drink, so live it up.

4534 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., 503-236-8089

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