I moved away from the Portland area about 20 years ago – yikes! I return annually to visit friends and family, and enjoy keeping up with the local food and drink scene every time I return. Growing up, it was mostly breweries and lobster shacks and now it’s a true foodie destination. When friends travel to Maine they ask for my recommendations. My most recent trip back was in August 2022. I wanted to share some of the best cocktail bars in Portland, Maine with my husband, including a brand new one to the city. (I also got a sneak peek at another bar opening in November 2022.) Also, if you landed on this post looking for the other Portland, I have a guide on that as well.
Originally posted in October 2019. Updated most recently in September 2022.
- Address: 26 Exchange Street
- Hours: Monday-Thursday 4pm-10pm | Friday, 4pm-11pm | Saturday 2pm-11pm | Sunday, 2pm-9pm
- Hospitality: 4.8, very busy bar so not much time to chat with the bartenders but they were attentive
- Atmosphere: 5.0, I would literally move into this bar it is so beautiful
- Drinks: 5.0, hands down the best cocktails of my trip
Nestled on Exchange Street, you might not find parking, but you’ll find Blyth & Burrows. This cozy spot is making quite the name for itself. Named after two fallen Commanders who fought in the War of 1812, the bar’s nautical decor was second only to its drinks. If you visit, don’t miss out on the chic basement or the cool speakeasy in the back behind the bookcase. (More on the latter below.) This is easily my favorite of all the bars in Portland, Maine.
The cocktail on the left is the Everybody Loves Ramos. Made with rhum, gin, genepy, apricot, matcha, coconut, citrus, orange blossom foam, and a real, tiny ice cream cone. It was refreshing and delicious. The cocktail on the right was my favorite. The Battle of Angostura features shisito & Thai basil tequila, mezcal, galliano, Dopo Teatro, caramelized pineapple, chili, lime, and angostura. Spicy and smoky with a kick of fruits and veggies, it was smooth and made we want another.
On my second visit to Blyth and Burrows in April 2021, I had a drink behind the bookcase in the bar. The Broken Dram serves up the same menu but it’s the “dive bar” companion to the main bar. I enjoyed a bottled to go cocktail and the “Ship Captain Crew”. The cocktail features Dandelion Bourbon, Rhum Montenegro Amontillado, Lemongrass, and Spruce Tip. They then hand smoke it with pecan wood chips inside a bottle. You drink the first half of the drink lightly smoked and the other half heavily smoked. This gives you two separate drinks to enjoy. It was a real treat.
- Address: 75 Market Street
- Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 2pm-10pm | Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
- Hospitality: 4.8, very busy bartenders
- Atmosphere: 5.0, gorgeous space with a very lively and friendly crowd
- Drinks: 4.9, very good cocktails
Opened in 2013, the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club is a not-to-miss bar in the Old Port. With an impressive cocktail menu, the food menu also holds its own. I enjoyed an incredible bowl of popcorn seasoned with green chili powder, butter, and parmesan. The couple that owns and operates the establishment even wrote a book about Northern Hospitality. This is a very popular location and most bartenders I know would say that this is one of their top bars in Portland, Maine to visit.
I enjoyed sipping on this rather perfect cocktail, while snacking on my popcorn and talking to some folks at the bar. The Bonecrusher is made with mezcal, lime, agave, and red pepper (the spicy ones, not the veggies). It was smokey with the perfect amount of spice. If you visit soon, they are limited to patio seating only and it gets busy so reservations are helpful.
3. ViA VECCHiA
- Address: 10 Dana Street
- Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 4pm-9:45pm | Friday, 4pm-10:45pm | Saturday, 5pm-10:45pm | Sunday, 4pm-8:45pm | Closed Mondays
- Hospitality: 5.0, the service was honestly almost better than the cocktails, which is saying a lot
- Atmosphere: 5.0, the place is GORGEOUS
- Drinks: 5.0, honestly, I was speechless after sipping my first cocktail, it was that good
The owners of Blyth & Burrows opened ViA VECCHiA in June 2020. This incredible Italian restaurant is located in Portland, Maine’s Old Port district in the historic 10 Dana Street building. While the focus is in the delectable small plates, fresh pastas, and pizzettes, the cocktail program is outstanding. The menu is broken into Fresh/Savory, Bitter, and Almost Classic drinks. After just one visit, I was hooked. It is definitely one of my favorite bars in Portland, Maine. I’ve been back twice and every visit is unique. They add new cocktails to the menu and the food is delicious.
I had two amazing cocktails and an apéritif. The Dark Passenger (left) is savory and spicy. It was so incredible, I could barely speak after my first sip. (I realize this sounds very dramatic, but I have tasted a LOT of cocktails. This flavor combination was truly something special.) It is made with añejo tequila, Sfamato, black mole cordial, Tajin Negra, and chili threads. My second drink was equally as impressive with a totally different flavor profile. The Smoking Mirror is mezcal, Zirbenz, Pasubio, passionfruit, and vanilla foam. Both were such a treat.
4. The Danforth
- Address: 211 Danforth Street
- Hours: Every day, 4pm-1am
- Hospitality: 4.8, great service from a team of professionals
- Atmosphere: 5.0, beautifully renovated space
- Drinks: 5.0, top-notch cocktails with impressive flavor combinations
When I heard that the team behind Death & Co. was opening a restaurant in Portland, Maine, I was originally a bit skeptical. For one, Mainers love local businesses, and outsiders can be regarded as trying to “change things too much.” And secondly, I had visited one of their other ventures in Charleston last summer, and it was just okay. After walking into The Danforth, and sipping my first cocktail, my hesitations disappeared. I grew up driving past the building, so I was excited to see how beautifully they renovated it, keeping the charm in tact. I was also blown away by the delicious cocktails and food. The Old Fashioned, in particular, was one of the best I’ve ever had, which is saying a lot.
- Pearly Gates Fizz: cognac, barley, coconut, macadamia, lemon juice, egg white
- Monorail: coconut gin, dry & sweet vermouths, absinthe
- Jukebox Highball: scotch whisky, cherry, toasted oat soda
- Hyperion Old Fashioned: bourbon whiskey, mezcal, corn, strawberry, molé bitters
- Address: 769 Congress Street
- Hours: Monday-Sunday, 4pm-midnight
- Hospitality: 5.0, so nice, very friendly bartender
- Atmosphere: 4.8, it’s a historic bar with a rich history in the community, it’s rather bare but the other guests made it a memorable, friendly visit
- Drinks: 4.8, very nice, approachable menu with delicious drinks
Bramhall was once a real 1920’s speakeasy, in the basement of Roma Café. While there’s no longer a secret password, the subterranean space is dark and cozy, illuminated mostly by candlelight. Once downstairs, you’ll find plenty of seating, a fully stocked bar, and some highly unique cocktails that celebrate Maine. When I returned I had another good experience. Some tourists I met asked me for a recommendation for a bar in Portland and this was an easy answer.
There’s a fireplace in the middle of the bar that is full of candles. (I couldn’t resist taking a photo of a drink in it.) The cocktail on the left, 3 Dollar Bill, features pisco, blueberry shrub, lemon, honey, and prosecco. It was tart and tasty. The cocktail on the right, Kid Charlemagne, is made with bourbon, coconut liqueur, and Braulio amaro. It was deep, perfectly balanced, and complex.
- Address: 78 Middle Street
- Hours: Thursday-Monday 11am-9pm | Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- Hospitality: 4.0, it’s a busy spot that prefers reservations (I was a walk-in)
- Atmosphere: 4.0, lively place with lovely decor
- Drinks: 4.9, my cocktail was definitely the best part of my visit
The Honey Paw was hopping when I got there on a Thursday night. With limited, mostly bar seating, you’ll want to either get there early or prepare to wait. Featuring a menu full of noodles, creative wontons, and Asian seafood fusion dishes, their bar is also worth not missing.
I had the Strong Paw which is made with tequila, mezcal, honey, lime, and chili. (I’ve clearly been on a spicy mezcal cocktail kick this trip!) The soft serve of the day also sounded too good to pass up. I finished off my day with the pumpkin spice ice cream with cheesecake chantilly and graham cracker crumb.
- Address: 52 Wharf Street
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 4-10pm | Friday and Saturday, 4-11pm
- Hospitality: 4.8, friendly and knowledgeable staff
- Atmosphere: 4.8, a nice dark and cozy bar
- Drinks: 4.7, solid drinks from a curated menu, it’s more about the whiskey collection (served up or over ice)
Tucked away on a cobblestone street, Independent Ice Co. has been around for almost three years. This whiskey bar located on a pedestrian-only street which is likely why I missed it on my last trip. I walked by it right after a delicious dinner while looking for a nightcap. This was the right place for that! When I entered, it reminded me of the Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland, OR, review in this post.
I enjoyed the Charles Morse Smoked Rye Manhattan (pictured) and their version of a bourbon smash. Since I already like Manhattans, this was a perfect choice for me. The cocktail is made with Knob Creek Rye, Angostura bitters, Cñia Mata sweet vermouth, and is served with a Luxardo cherry and smoked with Knob Creek American Oak chips. It was a slow sipper with the perfect amount of smoke.
- Address: 60 Thames Street
- Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 4:30pm-9:00pm | Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
- Hospitality: 4.9, the bartender was great to chat with
- Atmosphere: 4.8, swanky restaurant vibes
- Drinks: 4.8, small menu but solid drinks with interesting spirits and a great natural wine selection
Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro opened in Portland, Maine in the Spring of 2021. As the name suggests, you’ll find delicious local oysters, shellfish, and crudo on the menu. I enjoyed a halibut dish, following my oysters. They are located across the street from the waterfront and the dining room benefits from a lot of natural light. I enjoyed “Needles & Pins” which is made with Bruto Americano, cranberry, pine, tawny port, and bubbles. Not only was it delicious, it also was the perfect compliment to my meal and the great state of Maine.
9. Vena’s Fizz House (temporarily closed)
- Address: 867 Congress Street (re-opening here in Winter 2022)
- Hours: (temporarily closed)
- Hospitality: 5.0, super friendly staff and welcoming environment
- Atmosphere: 5.0, cozy with a vintage feel
- Drinks: 5.0, great menu and delicious drinks
When I walked into Vena’s Fizz House, I was pleasantly surprised to find not only a bar but a well-equipped cocktail supply store. Originally started as a soda shop, they still use many of the house-made syrups and tonics today. Vena’s makes a mean set of locally-inspired libations, with and without alcohol, making it a great outing for any group. On the retail side, you’ll find bitters, vintage glassware, dainty cocktail picks, mixers, and more.
On the bar side, you’ll find a cozy, copper-topped bar area, complete with two working soda drafts. I had to try the Lumbersexual which is made from gin, pine, tonic, lemon, rosemary, and the trio of bitters. It was a deliciously bitter tipple. I love herbal flavors like pine, cedar, and spruce in spirits and drinks.
Any trip back home to visit the best cocktail bars in Portland, Maine is a great one. Let me know if you would add any others to the list. Cheers!
The Bourbon Renewal at Clyde Common
The drink was crafted by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, arguably Portland's most famous bartender who inarguably put the city on the world cocktail map.
In fact, there's an entire week dedicated to it every year in Portland. The cocktail contains gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Continue reading to see other signature drinks in your region.
This city was named top food destination in the country
PORTLAND, Maine — One of the most widely read food magazines says there's no better US city for restaurants than Portland, Maine. Bon Appétit published an article on its website Tuesday that declared Maine's largest city the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year.
Portland's food scene is incredible. Bon Appetit magazine named it “America's Foodiest Small Town” and The Food Network named the city as one of its top five “Most Delicious Destinations.” The city has countless restaurants, diners, cafes and pubs, and there's a lot more than seafood.What is the signature cocktail of Maine? ›
Maine: Allen's Coffee Brandy and Milk
This drink, also known as the sombrero, is a crucial staple in the diet of anyone who lives in Maine. You can't find a bartender who DOESN'T know what an Allen's and Milk is.
- Allen's Coffee Brandy.
- Clams, clam juice.
- Strawberry rhubarb.
- Pine needles.
It is unlawful for any person to have in his possession while upon any street, sidewalk, or other public right-of-way any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic liquor which has been opened or a seal broken or the contents of which have been partially removed.What is the cocktail capital of the US? ›
Slick new drinking dens, booze festivals and a mixology museum are stepping things up in America's cocktail capital.What is the Jackie Wells cocktail? ›
Jackie lists out the ingredients to his cocktail very plainly: "Shot of vodka on the rocks, lime juice, ginger beer... oh, and most importantly – a splash of love." Many might recognize this as the recipe to a well-known, real-life cocktail, the Moscow Mule.What food is unique to Portland? ›
While Portland doesn't have a single iconic food, like cheesesteaks in Philadelphia or clam chowder in Boston, it has a number of must-taste delicacies. The Maple Bacon bar at Voodoo Doughnuts, the Reggie Deluxe at Pine State Biscuits and khao man gai at Nong's usually make the top of the citywide best-of lists.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland's newest restaurant Kann ranks No. 1 on Esquire's rankings of the best new restaurants in America out of 40 other restaurants across the nation. Kann is know for its iconic Haitian dishes and spices while also honoring the seasons and local ingredients of the Pacific Northwest.What is the most iconic food in Maine? ›
Iconic Maine Foods - Lobster, Chowder, Baked Beans, Moxie | Down East.What is the richest area in Portland Maine? ›
- West End.
- West Bayside.
- Portland East.
- East End.
- Deering Center.
- East Bayside.
Portland is the ideal place to take in live entertainment and enjoy area nightlife.Is Portland Maine the #1 food city in America? ›
Year after year, Portland is consistently ranked as one of the top food cities in America – and for good reason. Accessibility to farm-fresh produce and world-class wine from the Willamette Valley makes it easy for area restaurants to source quality ingredients no matter the time of year.What is Maine's favorite liquor? ›
|1||38178||TITOS HANDMADE VODKA|
|2||56308||ALLENS COFFEE BRANDY|
|3||1799||CAPT MORG SPICED (Plastic Bottle)|
Androscoggin County: The Moxie Bomb
A Union native invented Moxie in the 1800s, and though it's never been produced here, Mainers' love affair with the bittersweet gentian-root soda earned it official status as the state soft drink.
Elizabeth II was known to love a Dubonnet, a French drink by Pernod Ricard which combines fortified wine with herbs and spices – so much so that she gave it a Royal Warrant in November 2021. She preferred a cocktail of two parts Dubonnet to one part gin, garnished with lemon.What is the number 1 cocktail? ›
But, many bar-goers simply ordered a cocktail 'the old fashioned way'. Even today the Old Fashioned has been the number one selling cocktail in many bars. You just can't beat a classic!What is the most ordered cocktail? ›
A person is guilty of public drinking if the person drinks liquor in any public place within 200 feet of a notice posted conspicuously in the public place by the owner or authorized person that forbids drinking in the public place or after being forbidden to do so personally by a law enforcement officer, unless the ...Is it legal to drink on the Riverwalk? ›
Yes, you can walk around with alcohol on River Walk.
River Walk is the type of place you might want to grab a drink to go while you explore.
Open Container Law Oregon
The open container law in Oregon states that you can't have any containers of alcohol open in your vehicle. This is the case whether your vehicle is moving or parked. The law forbids even passengers from having an open container.
The nation's oldest bar, Rhode Island's White Horse Tavern, opened in 1673.What is the oldest American cocktail? ›
Peychaud used Sazerac De Forge et Fils brand of cognac, an Absinthe rinse, sugar, and his house-made bitters. Peychaud called his concoction the Sazerac Cocktail because of the spirit he used and the vessel he served it in. Therefore the Sazerac Cocktail created by Peychaud, is known as the oldest cocktail in America.What is the most famous drink in us? ›
Coca Cola is one of the most famous American drinks around the world.What is the Johnny Depp cocktail? ›
Johnny Depp Bourbon Sour Ingredients : 2 shot(s) Maker's Mark Bourbon 1 shot(s) freshly squeezed lemon juice ½ shot(s) sugar (gomme) syrup dash(es) of Bitters (optional) ½ egg white (optional) Charlize Theron Pomegranate Blossom Ingredients : 1/2 cup sugar 2 oz. citrus-flavored vodka 1 oz. pomegranate juice 1/2oz.What is a Johnny Carson cocktail? ›
Johnny Carson's mole tequila cocktail. 45 millilitre arette blanco tequila (from good liquor stores) 1 tamarillo, flesh scraped from the skin with a spoon. 3 drops chilli oil (from specialty grocery or asian stores) 2 dashes of bitter truth bittermens xocolatl molé bitters (from good liquor stores)What was the Frank Sinatra cocktail? ›
He'd go for a classic Martini – Beefeater gin with a shadow of vermouth, served on the rocks with a twist of lemon. And we had to make sure his glass was filled with ice.” Peter Dorelli also made drinks for Sinatra during his tenure as head bartender at The American Bar.What is Portland's signature dish? ›
Biscuits and Gravy Is Portland's Signature Dish.
Offering chewy-crusty loaves, savory hand pies, and irresistible sweets, these Portland, Maine, bakery destinations are perfect for food lovers. On the list of official Maine symbols, you'll find wild blueberry pie and whoopie pie right up there with white pine, lobster, and moose.What should I bring from Portland? ›
- Jacobsen Salt Co. Finishing Sea Salt (flavored and regular), Kosher Salt, Sea Salt Caramels. ...
- Bee Local Honey. ...
- Hand Made Pottery by Local Artisans. ...
- Local Wine. ...
- Fine Textiles. ...
- Pendleton Wools. ...
- Remember, Oregon doesn't have sales tax, so shop to your hearts content!
Chai Pani, a restaurant in North Carolina, US, was named the most outstanding restaurant in America at the 2022 James Beard Awards announced earlier this week.What food show is filmed in Portland? ›
Fifteen chefs were selected to compete in Top Chef: Portland. The cast consists entirely of executive chefs and restaurant owners, and is the first season of Top Chef to not include any sous-chefs among the competitors.What restaurant in Portland Maine used to be a church? ›
Welcome. Grace Restaurant offers a first rate menu in an atmosphere of artistic mastery. In 2009, the Chestnut Street Church, in downtown Portland, was reinvented as a sister restaurant to the successful Foreside Tavern.What is the most famous meal? ›
- Boeuf Bourgignon.
The Best Meals in Maine
The state's natural bounty stretches from the sea — haddock, clams and the famed crustacean — inland to towering maples, blueberry bushes and potato fields. But don't worry, lobster lovers: We have plenty of tips for you, too.
Of course, the iconic Maine sandwich is the lobster roll, but that regional culinary treasure is not today's focus. Instead, we've rounded up a baker's dozen of other notable sandwiches, who, for 364 days a year must live in the lobster roll's long shadow. Right here, right now, is their long-awaited day in the sun.Where do most millionaires live in Maine? ›
|3||Cape Elizabeth||Cumberland County|
In Maine, Scarborough is the only city home to a billionaire. Worth an estimated $2 billion, Susan Alfond is the only resident with a minimum 10-figure net worth.
Three of the most popular Portland nightlife districts or areas are Northeast Portland, the Pearl District, and Old Town Chinatown (where Portland's Entertainment District is located.) 1. Northeast Portland (and North Portland) has a variety of great after-hours attractions.Is it safe to walk downtown Portland Maine? ›
Yes, Portland remains a safe city for visitors.
In February 2022, the Major Cities Chiefs Association issued a report noting that violent crime remains high across big cities in the U.S. and Canada. Among cities of comparable size, Portland generally experiences violent crime at somewhat lower rates.
Historic street at the edge of the working waterfront area of Portland.Why is Portland Maine so popular? ›
A community filled with artists and foodies, beachcombers and winter lovers, Portland's a city with nightlife, shopping, and tourism abound. But it's also a city that easily keeps its small-town feel.Who has better food Seattle or Portland? ›
Seattle and Portland have had a "sibling rivalry" for centuries, but when it comes to being the best "foodie" town in America? Portland has the edge, according to a new study by WalletHub. In fact, Portland ranked as the top "Foodie" city in the nation in their study.Why is food expensive in Maine? ›
In fact, most of the food produced in the region is sent elsewhere for further processing, increasing the cost of food and the cost of transportation for any product sourced from the Northeast and then sent back after processing.What is Oregon's signature alcoholic drink? ›
One of the region's most popular drinks is the Negroni, which is a classic combination of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari.
While Portland doesn't have a single iconic food, like cheesesteaks in Philadelphia or clam chowder in Boston, it has a number of must-taste delicacies. The Maple Bacon bar at Voodoo Doughnuts, the Reggie Deluxe at Pine State Biscuits and khao man gai at Nong's usually make the top of the citywide best-of lists.What is Oregon's national drink? ›
State beverage: Milk - In recognition of milk's contribution to Oregon's economy, legislators named it the state beverage in 1997.What is the death themed bar in Portland? ›
If your vibe is more Haunted Mansion than House of 1000 Corpses, you'll dig the new Raven's Manor cocktail bar. Reserve a full interactive mixology experience or stop in for a few cocktails admist the ghosts of Dr. Raven's haunted lair.
While the U.S. does not have a national cocktail as Canada does, it has a national spirit. Bourbon whiskey was proclaimed the U.S. National Spirit by an act of Congress in 1964.What is the national drink of USA? ›
Bourbon (whiskey), named for Bourbon County, Kentucky, is a corn whiskey aged in charred oak barrels. It was proclaimed the U.S. National Spirit by an act of Congress in 1964.What is a Dexter drink? ›
Dexter is delightful standard cocktail at 1.1 standard drinks. Built with 30ml pear liqueur lara kruskovac and 15ml vodka lemon g52 with 45ml lemon soda as well as 50ml pear nashi including 50ml ice and had with salad dishes. Just add ice to bottom of glass then cut nashi pear into wedges and add wedges to glass.What is the city of Portland Maine known for? ›
In Portland, Maine you'll find a hub with cobblestone streets, local shops, and scenic working waterfront views. But never far away are charming area towns bringing beaches, lighthouses, world-class eats + arts, outdoor adventures, and shopping destinations just a short drive from downtown.What is the Amish drink? ›
PA Dutch Birch Beer, Favorite Amish Drink, 12 Oz.What do they call soda in Oregon? ›
People in Oregon call a fizzy soft drink, [Both] Pop.What is a mohawk drink? ›
Mohawk flavored brandies are made from fermented fruit juice and premium brandy. They are aged in oak containers, which contribute to their fantastic flavors and deep colors. The ginger root used for the Ginger Flavored Brandy is of the highest quality, and you can taste the spicy fresh ginger in the liqueur.What is the new creepy bar in Portland? ›
Haunted Themed Bar in Portland, OR | Cocktail Bar in Portland | Raven's Manor.What street in Portland has the best bars? ›
NE Alberta Street's busiest section, between Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and 33rd Avenue, is a major corridor of nightlife serving tourists and townies alike.What is Portland's oldest pub? ›
Established in 1879, Huber's is Portland's oldest restaurant. If you visited us in the 1890s, you'd have seen patrons conversing with a drink in one hand and a turkey sandwich in the other.