The Rabbit Hole is a bar and lounge below Via Sophia by the sea in Kennebunk. Photo by Alexandra Hall

“From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I’ve been told where I must go and who I must be,” says Lewis Carroll’s famed protagonist in his opus, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” “I’ve been shrunk, stretched, scratched, and stuffed into a teapot.”

Mercifully, things function quite differently than that at the Rabbit Hole that’s recently popped up in Kennebunk – a speakeasy-esque bar/lounge that’s the closest thing the area has to nightlife.

But then again, the two rabbit holes do share a few key traits. In Carroll’s seminal portal fantasy, Alice’s rabbit hole leads to a subterranean world that contrasts with the more rational and traditional everyday world. Kennebunk’s enclave, meanwhile, sits tucked down below Via Sophia By The Sea (the town’s chic new osteria), and its cool, smooth environment indeed sits in contrast with the rest of the town’s more staid demeanor. Moreover, like the fictional rabbit hole, this real one has its fantastical aspects.

The dreamy room leans into the retro with ’20s-inspired decor. The backlit bar is filled with not just bottles, but portraits in vintage frames and Spanish glass Porrón pitchers. (I could be being overly suggestible, but in the context here, they strike me as reminiscent of the Caterpillar’s hookah.) Grommeted leather sofas, sapphire velvet seating, funky orange tiger-print pillows, yet more portraits, and a bevy of mirrors and low lighting – single glowing globes and candlelight – fill the hardwood-floored room.

Live music is regular feature of the nightlife scene at the Rabbit Hole Photo by Alexandra Hall

And dangling above the whole shebang is a substantial disco ball, flanking a DJ booth and keyboard, just next to a neon rabbit on the wall. That’s the source of live smooth jazz from Bess Jacques every Friday from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Hot Radio Maine’s DJ B Aull spins classic and contemporary hits at the same time on Saturdays.

Carroll would no doubt appreciate the clever menus, labeled “Eat me” (snacks) and “Drink me” (cocktails). The latter are inspired by the lexicon of Alice, with libations like Futterwacken ($14), a smooth and nicely balanced blend of gin with elderflower, pineapple, lime and Prosecco. Even more delicious is the Curious & Curiouser ($14), which melds tequila and Punt e Mes with Aperol and house-made cinnamon syrup. Management plans to evolve and expand the list of cocktails as summer gets closer.


The small beer and wine lists get less of a spotlight: Beers are a selection of domestics punctuated by Lone Pine Brewing Co.’s Brightside, and Italian lager Menabrea. On tap, there’s a rotation of local brews, including from Baxter Brewing Co. and Allagash. Wines include an ever-changing selection of Prosecco and rosé Prosecco, a chardonnay-sauvignon blend or two, and a cabernet. As for that “Eat me” menu, it’s even tighter and lists snacks only – kettle corn, jalapeño potato chips, pork rinds and chocolate whoopie pies.

Not that anyone seems to mind; they’re chiefly here for an aperitif or nightcap, the live music and to soak up the relaxed vibe and experience a different side of the Kennebunks. “Everything in town shuts down by 9 p.m.,” said bar manager Ashley Wilson, who cut her teeth in hospitality in Old Orchard Beach, “which is when The Rabbit Hole gets going.”

Meanwhile, the “Drink Me” menu isn’t the only thing evolving and expanding – the clientele is, too.

“As the season is progressing and word gets out, lots of locals are coming in for jazz night, and now younger people are coming for the DJs,” Wilson said.

And of course, they also get overflow from the upstairs restaurant – diners who’ve serendipitously stumbled on the staircase leading to the world below.

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who lives in Maine.

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