Counter seating at Paper Tiger looks out onto Fore Street. Photos by Angie Bryan

You know how sometimes you can tell you’re going to have a good time somewhere as soon as you walk in the door? That’s exactly what happened when my drinking companion and I entered Paper Tiger, the island-style bar that opened in March in the Old Port spot formerly occupied by Maine Lobster Shack.

We walked past the large outdoor patio area, filled with wooden picnic tables, and stepped inside, where the stunning bar area caused even a veteran bar-goer like me to gasp in appreciation. Gorgeous dark teal walls and vibrant tropical prints set off shelves of alcohol and decorative objects. Backlit with blue lights, the shelves wrap around a corner and have Paper Tiger’s impressive collection of mismatched cocktail glasses (purchased from Goodwill!) hanging from the bottom. Customers have the choice of several booths, a concrete bar counter against a window perfect for people-watching on Fore Street or the actual bar, which features comfortable bar stools with low backs and foot rests, as well as purse hooks and outlets underneath.

The island theme is evident in both drinks and decor at Paper Tiger.

My friend and I settled in at the bar, where co-owner Marcus Alcantara was working. We opened up the menus, which are stashed inside old children’s books (also from Goodwill), and started reading. The menu features nine house exotic cocktails, including a Bartender’s Weekly Cocktail and a rotating slushie, as well as six classic island cocktail variations and three $8 mocktails. The day of our visit, the $12 Bartender’s Weekly was the Mo’ Heat Mojito, a concoction of Thai bird chili rum, lemon and cilantro.

My friend ordered the $12 Fort Gorgeous, which the menu described as “elegantly ferocious”: spiced blueberry shrub and Hardshore gin mixed with cardamom, lemon and soda. I went with the $11 Jungle Bird, a classic tiki cocktail typically made with rum, pineapple, Campari, lime and simple syrup. Sadly, the Jungle Bird disappeared from the menu shortly after our visit, a good sign that they’re keeping things fresh and new, but a shame because it was phenomenal. I guess I’ll just have to go back and try all the new additions to the menu. I’d start with the $13 Obscure Hemingway Reference: Flora de Cana rum with grapefruit liqueur and amaro, described as “Felt cute, might have a strong influence on 20th-century fiction later.”

The Fort Gorgeous and the Jungle Bird cocktails at Paper Tiger.

Paper Tiger is definitely a place for cocktail lovers, but it also has 10 wines by the glass (three reds, three whites, three sparkling and one rosé) ranging from $9 to $12, a full page of canned and bottled beers ($3-$8), and four local beers on draft.

Food-wise, Paper Tiger has both small-format and large-format options. I’m still thinking about how much I loved the $11 enormous coconut chicken wings with Sambal, pineapple and cilantro.


Upon seeing the “family size” section of the menu, I assumed it would be large portions of food or catering prices, but no – it was way better than that. It was large-format cocktails sized for a group! Be still, my beating liver. There’s a $45 scorpion bowl that serves four, a $45 punch that serves four, and a $100 Paper Tiger Golden Punch made with real smoke and fire that serves eight. They make only one Golden Punch a night, so once it has been ordered, that’s it.

Paper Tiger may sound fancy, but it’s welcoming to more than just tiki enthusiasts. “We have very experienced bartenders who can make anything,” said Alcantara. “You want a shot of cheap whiskey? We’ve got you.”

Yes, Paper Tiger, you do indeed have me. See you next time.

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

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