A view from above of Grand Central Wine Bar on the fourth floor of Station Square in Gorham. Photos by Angie Bryan

It’s not often that I say, “I sort of wish I lived in Gorham,” but that was a phrase I uttered multiple times while visiting Grand Central Wine Bar, which opened in November in Gorham’s Station Square building. Owner/singer Karen Nason, who was born and raised in Gorham but moved to New York City when she was 21, has done an incredible job of creating a sense of community in a brand-new venue; as soon as you leave, you’re thinking about when you might return.

It was a little hard to find the bar at first. We drove all the way around the Station Square building and didn’t see any signage. We then parked and walked around; still no luck. We gave up and went into the bowling alley for help and were directed to an elevator and told to go to the fourth floor. When we got off, we felt like we were going to someone’s apartment, but sure enough, there was the wine bar – sort of like an upstairs speakeasy. Nason likes it that way, and it certainly hasn’t prevented people from finding it. The Sunday afternoon and evening that we were there, there was a steady stream of people coming in and out; according to Nason, the average stay is about two hours.

The clock is one of the New York City-inspired touches at Grand Central.

The New York vibe is present throughout the bar, not only from the Grand Central Station-like touches, such as subway signs and a large clock, but also from the Sinatra-style music Nason has playing. Thursdays through Saturdays, there’s live music from 7-10 p.m. featuring piano, saxophone and Nason herself. At the top of a winding staircase is a small seating area and an outdoor deck; in the main bar area, you can sit at the bar (which could use purse hooks) or in various loungelike seating options, including a sofa.

The wine menu has three sparkling wines by the glass ($8-$9), two rosés by the glass ($8-$9), six whites by the glass ($8-$11) and 12 reds by the glass ($8-$13). There’s also a handful of draft and canned beers, as well as six classic cocktails. I started with the $13 Old Fashioned featuring cherry-infused bourbon, while my drinking companion sampled one of the reds. She then ordered the $14 Manhattan (made with mole bitters, hello) while I had the $12 bellini. All three cocktails were perfectly blended and balanced, but the clear winner was that Manhattan. I’m definitely adding mole bitters to my shopping list the next time I’m at the liquor store.

In addition to wine and beer, specialty cocktails are served at Grand Central Wine Bar.

Grand Central Wine Bar also has a more-than-decent rotating tapas menu. When we were there, the menu had six tapas options and three charcuterie board options. We went for the $9 smoked trout canapés with buttermilk dressing, pickled shallots and dill, and the $12 baked stuffed dates with Great Hill Bleu cheese, topped with prosciutto and a sherry gastrique. Both were exquisite – beautifully presented with flavors that made us slow down and savor every single bite. Nason rotates a few different chefs throughout the week, so expect to get lots of variety if you become a regular. If I lived in Gorham, I’d be one.

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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