Bramhall

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769 Congress Street, Portland, Maine

Prohibition era cocktails are all the rage in the bar world today but no one in Portland really does them better than Bramhall. If you haven’t been to Bramhall since the 90’s you’ll be in for a surprise. They’ve completely remodeled, embracing their subterranean location and filling it with glittering bottles, rich wood accents, and lots of candles. All of this set against the brick walls makes for a super cozy place to hang out with friends or a romantic place to take your date.

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Happy hour at Bramhall includes $4 red & white house wines,  $5 draft special, $2 High Lifes as well as food specials. You can snack on the Frito Pie, Deviled Eggs, or Rice Krispie treats for half price. All this occurs from 4-6 pm Monday through Friday.  If you happen to be a hospital worker, you can also enjoy happy hour Monday – Friday from 7:30 – 9:00pm.

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Bramhall has an excellent selection of beers, wines, and spirits so you are sure to find something to please your palate if you aren’t enthused by the happy hour specials. I was tempted off the list by the Four-Five-Six cocktail. It is a mix of Johnnie Walker Black, spiced vanilla honey, Raygun orange bitters and hops bitters. It was easily one of the top cocktails that I have ever had! It is well balanced and and somehow stays tasty even as the ice melts. It was so good I had 2! My companion opted for the draft special which was an Allagash white that evening.

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I ended up staying for dinner. The food at Bramhall is delicious. It’s pub fare but fun and well crafted. I ordered up the loaded crisps. These are house seasoned chips smothered in nacho cheese, bacon, and sour cream. SO good. The crisps are delicious. They have a hint of mesquite barbecue but the spice level is just right. I also decided to grab a grilled ham and cheese which featured apricot jam. I love a place that embraces my jelly/jam on grilled cheese aesthetic. It also is supposed to have jalepenos, but I asked to have them left out. My dining parter had the cubano. We were both immensely happy with our food. With a cold wind blowing outside it was amazing to be cozy and enjoying some great food.

If you miss the days of the old Bramhall, never fear. They embrace their history and still feature the Jerks of Grass at least once a month. They also have some great specials at other points in the week including their Power to the People Whiskey Wednesday pour which allows you to sample some rare and expensive whiskey and scotch for a reasonable price. The selection changes weekly. Check them out and follow them on social media. You may find a secret password unlocking happy hour prices all night long.

If you’re looking for a great place to hang out, have exceptional cocktails, and enjoy some fun food go check out Bramhall.

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Sunday Happy Hour: Blue and Sapporo

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Sapporo, 230 Commercial Street Portland, ME

Blue, 650 Congress Street, Portland, ME

Usually Sundays are reserved for leisurely brunches mid morning filled with pancakes and mimosas. Don’t get us wrong, brunch is great but it can also be crowded and hard to get people together. Enter the Sunday happy hour. You can meet up with friends after regular Sunday activities or just wrap up a great weekend before heading home to get ready to face the week.

We decided to see what Portland had to offer by way of Sunday happy hour and decided to check out two spots Blue, a great cozy music venue on Congress Street, and Sapporo, a Japanese restaurant located down on the waterfront on Commercial Street.

Our first stop was Blue for their Sunday Spins happy hour which runs 3 -6 pm. Specials included $3 craft beer (bartenders choice), $1 PBR, $3 house wine, $5 house cocktail and two food specials $4 red snapper or hummus and olives. They also have a regular M-Th happy hour as well with slightly different specials.

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Blue is a fun place to hang out. It’s small and cozy which makes it a great place to catch live music. During Sunday Spins it’s also a great place to bring in your vinyl records and give them a listen. They also have a number of records there for you to choose from if you don’t want to bring your own. Everyone was very polite, usually changing records after one side had played which allows for flexibility. You may hear anything played there, though if you hang with us it leaned toward Sergio Mendes and Led Zepplin.

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After  Blue we headed down to Sapporo which runs happy hour Sunday – Thursday from 5-7pm. They offer a number of specials mainly focusing on sake and Japanese brews for drinks and a bunch of food items. It’s a great way to assemble a delicious and inexpensive dinner. If you need more than small plates and appetizers their full menu is available as well. We were a larger group and a bit raucous so we ordered up a large sampling of food and tucked in. Our servers were great and it was a lot of fun!

We love a weekend happy hour and these two places were great options. If brunch just isn’t your thing or you are looking for something different, we recommend you give these places a try.