Salt Yard P.M. might look like just any hotel lobby bar, but its Maine-themed craft cocktail list will change your mind. Photos by Angie Bryan

You’ve probably heard of Luna, the rooftop bar at the Canopy Hotel by Hilton, but did you know that the Canopy also has a bar on the ground level?

Salt Yard has been open for a while as a coffee/breakfast/lunch spot, but recently opened the second half of its expansive space as a cocktail bar. The morning spot is Salt Yard A.M. and the bar space is Salt Yard P.M. Salt Yard P.M. blew me away.

It didn’t look like anything special when my drinking companion and I walked in – just a regular hotel lobby bar, albeit with an impressive fire feature. As they say, though, looks can be deceiving, and as soon as I started reading the cocktail menu, I knew we were in for a treat.

The menu lists 12 original craft cocktails ($13-$20, with most priced in the middle), many with Maine-centric names such as Upta Camp (Plantation rum, Aperol, cream, beet and strawberry allspice shrub, strawberry syrup, pineapple and Angostura bitters), Memere’s Tonic (sherry, Espolon tequila, Cointreau, lime, blueberry cinnamon jam and Root Wild kombucha), and Moxie Old Fashioned (Old Port bourbon, Moxie syrup, orange bitters and Fernet Michaud, Liquid Riot’s Amaro, which is aged for three months in Maine blueberry wine barrels). Where was that last drink when I attended the Moxie Festival in Lisbon this summer, desperately scouring the streets of Lisbon for creative cocktails involving Moxie?

My drinking companion opted for the Needhams After Dinner (Korbel brandy, the Italian amaro Cynar, Meletti chocolate liqueur, and a potato and coconut orgeat), while I went for the Hot and Buttered, Please (brown buttered lobster fat washed NE Tidewalker bourbon, Averna Amaro, and Carpano Antica Vermouth) cleverly listed on the menu with “MKT” as the price (it was $20). Yes, you read that right, I ordered a cocktail involving lobster fat. My drinking companion was visiting Maine for the first time, so I figured having her taste one cocktail involving lobster and another inspired by Needhams was exactly what needed to happen.

Needhams After Dinner and Hot and Buttered, Please, made with brown buttered lobster fat, from Salt Yard P.M.

For obvious reasons, we started with mine. I’m no scientist, but there was something magical about the combination of the brown butter, the fat and the bourbon, which smoothed out the drink and gave it a caramel-like essence verging on chocolate undertones. In a word, spectacular.  No big surprise, but my friend’s drink was also a big hit – how could it not be, given that it was designed to remind us of a chocolate-coconut candy? Neither one of us could taste the coconut, but that didn’t matter – we still enjoyed every sip of the nuanced, layered, perfectly balanced drink.


Our drinks were only part of why we both loved Salt Yard P.M. – the other reason was the phenomenal bar ambassador, Katrin Miller, who developed the entire menu. Previously, she created the bar program at another of my favorite bars outside of Portland, Sonder & Dram in Lewiston. Her deep passion for the hospitality industry was evident, and she was overflowing with ideas about where she hopes to take Salt Yard P.M. in the future. The bar has already collaborated with local businesses like Rwanda Bean Coffee and SH/FT Training Center, it was taking signups for a build-your-own-terrarium class, and there’s live music on Friday evenings.

Seating options were varied and comfortable, there were purse hooks under the bar, the music and lighting were at decent levels, and a small food menu includes four flatbreads ($15-$18) made in a wood-fired oven.

The background paragraph on Salt Yard’s menu concludes with the line “We’ll see you again, no doubt about it.” Indeed.

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

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