Thursday, December 5, 2013
By EMMA BOUTHILLETTE
From what I've heard over the years, people either love or hate The Snug.
Ashley Hanamann, Bryan McLeod and Ethan Jud, all of Portland, chat over beers at The Snug.
Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer
WHERE: 223 Congress St., Portland
HOURS: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. (give or take) daily
PARKING: On street
HAPPY HOUR: 5 to 7 p.m. daily, with $3 drafts and $4 well drinks
SCENE: Small neighborhood bar without the hassle of Old Port nightlife.
Located at Washington Avenue and Congress Street about halfway up Munjoy Hill in Portland, it's become a neighborhood bar for East Enders. Those who love it do because it feels like home. For those who don't, I guess they just don't understand the charm of this little bar.
When I was a student at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in fall 2007, a number of my classmates called The Snug home after long days of writing, developing and printing photos or editing audio. I never had the chance to join them then, nor had I thought about checking out The Snug since.
That changed when I met a friend there on a recent Saturday night for drinks and catching up with each other.
The nice thing about The Snug is that if you live on the East End, it's within walking distance. If you don't, it's easier to find parking than at some place in the Old Port. I pulled into a spot just out front and bellied up to the bar with my friend.
The taps are front and center so you have no question about what is available for your brew pleasure. My friend ordered the TurboDog beer brewed in Louisiana -- a pint will run you $4. Disappointed to see they didn't have Pumpkinhead or another pumpkin-esque brew, I decided to go for Crown Royale and ginger ale. That was a stiff drink for $6.50.
There's no formal drink menu at The Snug. It seems that beer is the beverage of choice for most patrons. However, there's a fully stocked bar, and the bartenders are willing to make whatever you'd like.
A group of college buddies, now in their mid-30s, took over the corner of the bar next to us. We noticed one of them leave and return a few minutes later with a pizza box from Otto's next door. This made my friend hungry. She asked to try one of the bar's $3 "big hot pretzels" advertised on a chalkboard behind the bar. Sadly, there were none available at the time.
"You can go get a slice next door if you want," the bartender said, adding they have no problem if people do that throughout the night.
For people who didn't instantly fall in love with The Snug, it may be because they don't know how to embrace snarky humor. Between the bathroom doors at the back of the bar, a sign reads, "Only ONE person at a time in the restroom. ANYONE caught violating this policy will be barred from The Snug indefinitely," followed in small print by, "Don't make Michelle open a can of whoop-(butt)."
I didn't get to meet Michelle the night I was there, but she seems to be The Snug's legendary bartender. She was also probably the bartender responsible for putting up the snarky sign telling folks not to ask her to turn on, change or turn up the small television behind the bar, because she likely wouldn't do it.
Hitting up The Snug in groups is great, because there are cozy booths lining the wall opposite the bar that will encase your party.
And despite the witty signs, old photos of the owner's family hung throughout the bar can help you see The Snug has family values.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.