I’ve been doing heated vinyasa flow yoga at a place sandwiched between a bar and a doughnut shop. I’ve resisted both indulgences when I go to yoga — until recently.
I first visited JP Thornton’s Bar & Grille on Broadway in South Portland a couple of years ago. It was after our Portland Press Herald team played a softball game. We had unfortunately lost — again — but decided to celebrate anyway.
I decided to return on a recent Thursday to kill time before meeting friends for Paint Nite Portland. Either I wasn’t very observant the last time I was there, or the bar has added a series of paintings highlighting New England sports. Large, bold paintings depict a New England Patriots player, three members of the Boston Celtics and a rendering of the famous photo that captured Muhammad Ali’s famous one-punch fight here in Maine decades ago.
Shortly after 5 p.m., bar seats were at a premium. I tucked myself at one end of the bar to get a server’s attention. JP Thornton’s offers more than a dozen beers on tap, a handful more by the bottle, and a varied wine list to suit anyone’s tastes. I was there during happy hour, but I was more interested in a cocktail than the specials offered on beer and house wine.
“Have you been helped yet?” the bartender asked me.
“No sir,” I responded. “Do you have a drink menu?”
JP Thornton’s has a fully stocked offering of liquor, but no specific menu. I couldn’t think of anything specific I wanted to drink, so I asked the server, “What’s your favorite drink to make?”
He came back with a vodka-based, fruity kind of martini for me that was refreshing and not too sweet. The cocktail was $8, so I definitely didn’t capitalize on any happy hour offerings, but I can say it was very enjoyable.
Along the bar, it was obvious there were clusters of people gathered to catch up and enjoy a few drinks with appetizers. During happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, JP Thornton’s has half-off appetizer specials and a variety of options reasonably priced. You can get wings, nachos, shrimp cocktail, fried ginger squid, mussels or a cheese plate to share with friends.
With tables nearby, there wasn’t much standing room for folks who didn’t have seats at the bar, but there were a few people standing in a group drinking their beverages. I grabbed an extra bar stool pushed along the back wall to sit, sip my beverage and enjoy some old-school clips of the Boston Bruins back when hockey players didn’t have to wear helmets.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.