In better weather, the outdoor deck at The Roof, above Joseph’s by the Sea in Old Orchard Beach, would be hard to leave. Photos by Angie Bryan

Joseph’s by the Sea has been an Old Orchard Beach institution since 1968, but its rooftop bar and deck, called The Roof, didn’t open until last year. (Hmmmm, I, too, was born in 1968. Perhaps I should open a rooftop bar!)

Accessible only via stairs, the bulk of The Roof is an extensive outdoor patio deck, but there’s also a decent-sized indoor area with a diner-like vibe thanks to blue vinyl-covered booths and barstool cushions, as well as the architectural glass blocks underneath the bar. That’s where the drizzly weather directed my friend and me. I’d complain about the fact that the bar didn’t have any purse hooks, but most people are probably coming from the beach without purses, so I’ll refrain.

The inside bar area has a diner-like feel.

More casual than the downstairs bar and restaurant, The Roof has a more limited food and beverage menu, although the waitstaff said that you can often order items from the regular Joseph’s by the Sea menu. My drinking companion and I stuck to The Roof’s menu, opting to try two of their seven specialty cocktails. For some reason, even the printed menus don’t include drink prices, but our server told us that the drinks range from $9-$12.

My friend selected Le Jeu est Fait (French for The Game is Done, made with Bulleit rye, Cointreau, lemon and Peychaud’s bitters).  I went with the aptly named Pamplemousse (Hendrick’s gin, grapefruit, elderflower liqueur, lemon and prosecco).  Our drinks arrived in ice-cold glasses – a nice touch for patrons coming in from a hot day on the beach.

I was disappointed by the lack of subtlety in my drink – all I could taste was grapefruit and liquor. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Greyhound, but I was expecting more layers of flavor in the drink I had ordered. My friend’s drink, however, made up for it. The deep coral color made it appealing before we ever tasted it, and the complex blending of flavors added to our enjoyment.

We couldn’t resist ordering a crab melt, which arrived with potato chips and some pickled vegetables. Not overly big, it was the perfect portion size for an oceanside nosh that wouldn’t weigh you down. Other options included a $14 lobster potato pancake appetizer, $10-$16 salads and a $16 “beach burger” with spicy bacon jam, goat cheese, bacon (because bacon jam isn’t enough, amirite?) and habanero caramelized onions.

There’s a bunch of specialty cocktails to choose from at The Roof.

During The Roof’s daily happy hour from 3-6 p.m., drafts and house wines are $5. The Roof’s regular menu lists 13 bottled beers, an additional six local cans and bottles ($7-$8), five drafts ($6-$8), three sparkling wines by the glass ($8-$10), 10 white wines by the glass ($8-$10) and 10 red wines by the glass ($7-$12). The other specialty cocktails are a mule, a painkiller, the Basil Smash (gin or vodka, basil, lemon and simple syrup), the Blueberry Hill (blueberry vodka, Aperol, blueberry juice, lime and soda) and the Casa en Fuego (aka House on Fire, with habanero-infused tequila, blood orange puree, Triple Sec and lime).

The Roof bills itself as “the best view in Old Orchard Beach,” and that’s no exaggeration. On a perfect-beach-weather day, it would be hard to pull yourself away from the outdoor deck. Good luck.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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