December 22, 2011

Bar Guide: Snow Squall combines cozy feel, adventurous spirit


I showed up at the Snow Squall in South Portland just in time for happy hour on a recent Friday.

click image to enlarge

Colleen Foley, bar manager at the Snow Squall, makes one of its many specialty martinis, a Grapefruit Martini. The reviewer enjoyed a Lavender French 75, which includes locally made mead.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 18 Ocean St., South Portland; 799-0811,

HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday (brunch served in the morning)


SCENE: Long bar, a few pub tables and a cozy lounge area for casual gatherings and live music for some entertainment every Friday night.

GUILTY PLEASURE: I was told that the Meow Meow Kitty Saketini, which goes for $12, was worth every penny.

From 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, the bar offers half-priced appetizers, $4 house wine, $5 mixed well drinks and about a dozen draft beers for $2.50 each. While those budget-friendly prices were tempting, so was the specialty drink menu.

At the bottom of the list was a cocktail, Lavender French 75. It had Bombay Sapphire Gin mixed with Maine Meadworks Lavender Mead and lemon juice and, as if that weren't enough, a dash of Champagne.

Yes, please. Give me one of those.

Mom, who is becoming my happy-hour sidekick, decided on the Sparkling Pomegranate Martini. As the bartender mixed our drinks and poured them straight up in a martini glass, two men sitting near her said, "Well, those look pretty."

And they did -- the martini was a rich red, and my drink was garnished with a sprig of lavender and a twist of lemon. For $10 apiece, they were also well worth the money. A taste of the pomegranate martini was too sweet for me, but my LF75 was just the right blend of tart lemon balancing the sweet mead, making for a refreshing drink.

The Snow Squall seems like a neighborhood-type gathering place. The owner, who was working behind the bar, seemed to know many of the people sitting on leather couches in the lounge area and around the pub tables.

I have a tendency to get myself lost when I venture into South Portland, but the bar/restaurant was easy to find. With the Snow Squall situated near Casco Bay, I was hoping for some water views, especially with the night's bright full moon, but the building is actually set back behind South Port Marine.

The chic atmosphere inside the bar made up for the lack of water views, though. A fire kept the lounge area cozy, and there's enough space at the bar so you don't feel like you're squished. Pub tables make a great spot for groups of four to gather for a drink. For the sports-minded, there are a few televisions to keep track of scores.

The menu notes the Snow Squall's stance on supporting local businesses. Like the Maine Mead Works lavender mead used in my drink, it listed a number of local businesses, from Standard Baking Co. to Freedom Fish, from which the venue purchases products.

The bar filled up as happy hour rolled on. By 6 p.m., local musician Adam Waxman had set up, and was singing while strumming a guitar. Between the chatter of customers and the chill music, the bar was quite abuzz.

Having heard halfway through my Lavender French 75 that the Meow Meow Kitty -- a blend of sake served with a slice of cucumber -- was really the cat's meow, I was hoping to try that as my second drink. But after all, someone had to drive home.

Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.


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