The outdoor area suits the lakeside relocation of Grand Central Wine Bar. Photos by Angie Bryan

I was a big fan of Grand Central Wine Bar in Gorham, so ever since it closed in 2021 and owner Karen Nason reopened it on Sebago Lake in late May, I’ve been dying to go check it out. Maybe it’s the redneck in me, but when I think of lake life, I think of drinking, and I had long been disappointed that there didn’t seem to be many bars on the lake. But this one is everything I’d want a lakeside bar to be.

The new location has a lovely outdoor area with music piped outside, strings of lights, picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, umbrellas for shade and lots of plants. There’s room for about 30 people outside and about 25 people inside, where there’s a bar with backless (but surprisingly comfortable) red leather-cushioned stools, a few regular tables, a grand piano that gets a lot of use, wood-paneled walls, and a small retail area with all sorts of grab-and-go items perfect for boating or cabin stays. My drinking companion and I settled in at the bar, where we found Nason herself bartending – she had given her team the day off because it was raining and they didn’t expect many customers.

While there are numerous nods to Grand Central Station, the feel is more of a neighborhood bar where you feel right at home even if you’re not from the neighborhood. Being a wine bar, it, of course, has a fun wine list, but there is also a rotation of eight options on draft. The day of our visit those included a $10 prosecco, six local beers ranging from $7 to $9, and Michelob Ultra ($6). There’s also a full bar and six specialty cocktails, including a $6 sangria.

Pussy Galore and Mole Manhattan from Grand Central Wine Bar.

The wine list features 19 wines by the glass: eight reds ranging from $10 to $12, eight whites ranging from $10 to $15, one $12 rose, and two $11 sparkling ones. Additional options are available by the bottle. People trying to learn more about wine might be frustrated that the country of origin is not listed on the menu, only the name of the wine, but it’s also the kind of place where you can just ask and end up in a delightful conversation about how Nason discovered it or what it pairs best with from the food menu.

Like me, my drinking companion was in more of a cocktail mood, so we decided to go that route. He started with the $12 margarita, and I went with the $13 old fashioned garnished with a bourbon-infused cherry; we then moved on to the $14 Mole Manhattan (Woodford rye, amaro Montenegro, and mole bitters with a Luxardo black cherry) and an off-menu cocktail, the James-Bond-inspired Pussy Galore. It was essentially a lime-forward Cosmopolitan.

Grand Central Wine Bar knows its classic cocktails, like the margarita and old fashioned seen here.

All four of our drinks were perfectly made, important when you’re dealing with classics people expect to taste a certain way, and everything came out really quickly, including the cheese board and grilled cheese sandwich we had ordered for sustenance. Yes, you read that correctly, we ordered cheese accompanied by cheese. Who are you, my cardiologist? It was delicious, and I regret nothing.

Grand Central Wine Bar has live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the regulars are friendly, and it’s seasonal, so get there before it closes in October.

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

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