Vena’s Fizz House, which started out as a mocktail shop in 2013, has soared to the top of the mixology meter. Online review site Yelp just released a list of best bars in every state, according to reviews, and named the Portland venue the best from Kittery to Fort Kent.
We happened to stop into Vena’s this week and found affable owner Steve Corman doing what he does best, talking up bitters. From the Lumbersexual to the Shipwreck, he’s designed each libation to coax out nuanced flavors that tickle the tastebuds without the cloyingly sweet counterpunch. The self-described “bitterest man in the world” is bullish on bitters, an ancient digestive. In fact Corman is releasing his own line of bitters in a few weeks.
This Boothby Square corner bar on Fore Street is now a full-fledged lounge. Even to enter their barware gift shop you must be 21. No doubt, Vena’s is certainly shaking up some divine sips, but Portland is awash in killer cocktails. So what’s Yelp’s methodology?
They use an algorithm that looks at the number of reviews and star ratings for a business. “All the businesses on this list are in the bar category and are not part of a national chain,” explained Steff Deschenes, Yelp’s Maine community manager.
So many indie cocktaileries have opened in the last few years in Portland that it’s easy to overlook the gems. The underground tiki bar Rhum pours fun and funky Polynesian drinks under its giant palapa bar, and the so-hip-it-hurts Bearded Lady Jewel Box on Congress feels straight out of the Victorian age, only with a better soundtrack. (If you can’t find these clandestine entrances, you don’t belong in either).
Other’s swear by Sonny’s in Post Office Plaza or the Hunt and Alpine Club, a martini’s splash away. So let’s not let the Yelpers have all the fun. What’s your favorite Maine watering hole? Who should make the list?