The End of Portland has nine classic cocktails on its menu, and a full bar that awaits your imagination. Photo by Angie Bryan

The building at 229 Congress St., directly across from the Eastern Cemetery at the base of Munjoy Hill, has been occupied by several bars and restaurants just within the past few years.

Cafe and creperie Sip of Europe was an early victim of the pandemic. Dirty Dove cocktail bar followed, then was relaunched as Saint Joe Restobar before closing this year. As of May, it’s now home to a bar called The End of Portland.

A small sidewalk blackboard outside greeted me and my friends with the message “Cold Beer – Dead Spirits – Warm Hearts – The End.” When we entered the relatively small space, we didn’t know quite what to think – or where to look. The ceiling tiles are painted gold, with bits of paint intentionally (at least, it looks like it was intentional) dripping down onto the Asian-inspired black wallpaper covered in gold dragons. Both the main bar and the bar along the window on Congress Street (a great spot for people watching) feature a vibrant floral design.

Another wall has a few music posters on it and a handful of small tables attached to the wall, each with four backless barstools. I never made it to Saint Joe Restobar, but the bartender told us that the décor really hasn’t changed much despite the new ownership and completely different menu. We settled in at the main bar, where I was thrilled to see not only purse hooks, but also a bottle of Disaronno that was bigger than my head.

Negroni, strawberry margarita and Old Fashioned from The End of Portland. Photo by Tony Holder

We had a choice of nine cocktails, most of them straightforward classics, but there’s a full bar complete with a stack of bartending books, so don’t feel limited. We went with a $12 strawberry margarita (the bartender’s recommendation), a $12 Negroni, and a $10 Old Fashioned. Service was fast, and the rim on the margarita was impressive; all three drinks tasted pretty much as you’d expect. Ironically, the strawberry margarita was our least favorite – not much of a strawberry flavor came through, but then again, strawberry can be a challenging flavor to highlight in a cocktail.

The menu also has four $8 house wines by the glass (a white, a rose, a red and a sparkling – what else do you need?), a $6 draft pilsner, an $8 draft lager, $8 prosecco on tap, and 11 cans and bottles ranging from $3 to $8. There are also a handful of random options such as the $8 Doctor Pepper, which is a shot of Disaronno in a Miller High Life. That giant bottle of Disaronno is beginning to make sense now. The only three food options are mini tacos ($5), veggie egg rolls ($7), and chips and salsa ($4).


The bar was pretty empty when we were there, but it was a Monday night, so that’s not necessarily surprising. There were a few random stragglers and a young couple playing cards at the bar, which was nice to see.

It was hard to tell what the owners were going for concept-wise, which makes it difficult to evaluate whether they achieved it. My drinking companions and I concluded that, while the drinks were definitely a good value compared to the prices at many other places in Portland, we probably wouldn’t go out of our way to go back, but that if we lived in the neighborhood, it would be a solid choice for our regular neighborhood bar. Low-key, unpretentious, clean and good service.

The End.

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

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