If you’re looking for the perfect romantic date spot, program the GPS to Gorham and head to Sidecar wine, whiskey and tapas bar located in the Clock Tower at Station Square in the space previously occupied by Grand Central Wine Bar.

Owned by Ben Smith, who also owns Junction Bowl downstairs, Sidecar held its grand opening on Oct. 21, but word clearly spread fast, as it was packed within half an hour of opening on the Friday night I visited in mid-November with four drinking companions, all residents of Gorham eager to check out the new venue.

Multiple seating options circle the bar, which is located in the center of Sidecar’s unusual space. There are lots of cozy nooks with two upholstered chairs, at least one sofa, some high-tops and a few regular tables, as well as an upstairs area with a wrap-around deck.

Cozy seating nooks and live music are among the features of Sidecar in Gorham.

The lighting is cozy, the décor includes fun vintage photos of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash, and the service is friendly and attentive. There’s also an area for live music, which Sidecar features most nights at 7 p.m. The singer that night was the spectacularly talented Andi Fawcett, whose vibe was a perfect match for the atmosphere.

There weren’t even written drink menus available yet, but we were enjoying ourselves so much that it really didn’t bother us. Patrons who wanted whiskey hopped up to check out the wall on the side of the bar; wine-lovers wandered over to the chalkboard listing of options, where whiskey-forward cocktail specials were also listed. There was, however, a printed menu of bar snacks.

Both food and drinks came out very shortly after ordering them. We tried five different cocktails that evening: the $12 Cherry Amaretto Sidecar, the $13 Sidecar Mosa (vodka, cider, and prosecco), the $14 Folsom Prison Bourbon Sidecar, the $15 Basil Hayden Old Pal and the $14 Strawberry Shortcake Martini, which tasted pretty much exactly like strawberry shortcake. I could taste the Vanilla Stoli and the fresh strawberry puree, but I could not for the life of me figure out what was making it taste like cake. Turns out it was a splash of Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur).

A bevy of beverages at Sidecar in Gorham.

That drink was my favorite, but the other two crowd-pleasers were the Folsom Prison Bourbon Sidecar (bourbon and cider served in a glass with a cinnamon sugar rim and garnished with a sprig of rosemary) and the Basil Hayden Old Pal (Basil Hayden, a light-bodied high-rye small-batch bourbon in the Jim Beam family, along with simple syrup, bitters and an orange peel garnish).

We also ordered the $12 bacon-wrapped scallops, the $16 charcuterie board, and the $16 baked Brie. We enjoyed all of them and were blown away by the presentation.

I had been sad to hear that Grand Central Wine Bar had closed, so I was thrilled to discover that I liked Sidecar even more. Such a smart business move to expand the focus to both whiskey and wine instead of just wine. I’m already looking forward to my next visit. I just need to find that romantic date to accompany me.

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


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