Games are on tap at Foster watering hole
by: KATIE HARTLEY, The bar at the Slingshot Lounge also serves as a DJ deck for Liam Flanagan, who serves up pints of beer and no-fuss cocktails along with a little Jimi Hendrix.

About the only thing shakin' this hour of the night on Southeast Foster Road is the booty on the Water Heater King, handsomely animated on the neon sign atop George Morlan Plumbing.

He does his endless hokey-pokey on a stretch of Portland real estate best known for its future potential.

That potential has arrived - just across the street - at the Slingshot Lounge.

Lounge is the operative word here. On a rainy night there is little incentive but to kick back in one of the six booths or at the concrete bar and leisurely take in the sights and sounds.

After all, it isn't likely there's a better hangout just down the street, and downtown is more than 56 blocks away.

Though it isn't the only game in town, games do define half of the bar's appeal. The Slingshot is divided into two rooms: a sleek, modern lounge and a game room.

The lone bartender spins vinyl on the bar in addition to making excellent drinks and pouring beer from eight different taps.

For those who cry that Pabst Blue Ribbon should not be the default cheap draft in a part of the country renowned for its Rainier and Olympia beers, there are pints of Oly. Not, perhaps, quite as dependably effervescent as a PBR, but serviceable indeed at $2.

Large photos of tattooed Japanese, showing off their body art, decorate the walls in the bar. Black cone lights illuminate the bar, which has a press for squeezing fresh citrus juice. The greyhounds are as good as vodka and grapefruit juice gets.

Top-label alcohol is offered; there is no drink menu. This, oddly, comes as a great relief - no need to peruse a list of precious concoctions with ironic combinations to arrive at something that will winningly wet the whistle.

Speaking of whistle, pucker up for a glass of Lindemans Framboise, a raspberry brew as tart as a David Sedaris story, and equally as satisfying.

The crack of a flying puck resounds throughout the premises. Though only two people can play air hockey at a time, everyone hears it. For those who'd rather play games than BS, there also are darts, pool and yes, Virginia, even a foosball table.

As the night wears on, Southeast denizens fill the bar stools and booths. Hairy boys in stocking caps and women - some as ripe and world-weary as a young Simone Signoret - smoke cigarettes and drink.

You wouldn't come here to eat, but if you're hungry there is a soup of the day ($3 cup, $4 bowl), a hummus plate and three kinds of panini sandwiches. Don't feed the house cat, who patrols the joint, in search of love.

- Randall Barton

Slingshot Lounge, 5532 S.E. Center St., 503-445-6649, 4:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday, 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, happy hour 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday

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