The atmosphere at Après, East Bayside’s new hard seltzer and cider bar, is welcoming before you even approach the entrance.

The enormous building has a large outdoor patio with cornhole and room for food trucks; The Pink Waffle was there when I visited. The spacious interior has a ski chalet vibe (hence the name), with cozy seating arrangements including some spectacular curved cushioned booths, leather barstools with backs at the main bar (though no hooks underneath), a long stand-up counter, several regular tables, a sofa, some comfy chairs, plants and the perfect amount of lighting. “Buzzy and fun” were the words my friends used to describe the ambiance.

There’s no table service at Après, so my friends and I sat at the bar. The menu had nine hard seltzers, all for $4 for a 6.5-ounce pour and $6 for a 16-ounce pour. Several people around us (a very mixed-age crowd) were creating their own flights by ordering multiple small pours in different flavors.

There are four house-made soft seltzers in flavors such as marshmallow orangeade and Maine maple lemonade, plus one dry cider and one semi-dry cider ($5 for a 7-ounce pour; $6 for a 12-ounce pour). The four guest taps on the day of our visit included another cider, along with three beers – a nice touch for customers who don’t want hard seltzer or cider.

The Pine Rickey hard seltzer, Emmons cider and The Dove hard seltzer from Après.

It was hard to decide which hard seltzer flavors to order – they aren’t the kind of flavors you find everywhere. Rather than being one-note, like strawberry or peach, they had more of a cocktail feel to their descriptions, such as the Pine Rickey (lemon lime and pine), the Rosa Verde (strawberry and basil) and the Pepo (cantaloupe and cucumber). Two of the flavors are inspired by famous cocktails, The Dove (the hard seltzer version of a Paloma) and the Vesper (a gin-and-tonic-flavored hard seltzer).

We started off with the Pine Rickey and The Dove, then moved on to the Vesper, the Pepo and the So Was Red (rhubarb and raspberry). The flavors for all of the hard seltzers that we tried were subtle but present, and all of them felt like a wonderful way to have a light and refreshing drink without overdoing it (they’re only 5% ABV).  Our clear favorite was the Vesper, which really did taste like a lighter version of a gin and tonic. The surprise runner-up was the Pine Rickey, a welcome twist on an adult lemonade.

Après also sells a few snack items, including meat-and-cheese trays and nuts. The patio is so dog-friendly that there’s even a jar of dog biscuits at the counter where people place their orders.

Comfy chairs are among several seating options at Après.

As much as we loved the atmosphere and the actual drinks, the best thing about our visit was the service. There was a team of several bartenders working together, and every single one of them was friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and efficient.

It was one of those “I didn’t move to Maine for this” hot and humid days, and it felt like they didn’t have air conditioning indoors. The bartender took one look into my hot and sweaty soul and asked me if I’d like a glass of ice to go with my cider. Yes, please. As soon as it was gone, a much larger glass of ice magically appeared without my asking for it. And then another.

If I can have sweat running down my back and still look forward to returning for another visit, it’s a giant win in my book.

Retired diplomat Angie Bryan writes about Maine’s cocktail bars while making as many puns as her editor allows.


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