Room for Improvement opened on Wharf Street in April. Photo by Angie Bryan

Old Port bar Room for Improvement made the small and exclusive list of the five best new bars in America published this week by online beverage magazine Punch.

Room for Improvement, opened in April by co-owners Arvid Brown and Nick Coffin, was included in Punch’s splashy listicle along with Nine Bar in Chicago; Post Haste in Philadelphia; Sperbueno in Manhattan’s East Village; and Wild Child in Shawnee, Kansas.

Introducing the feature, Punch staffers wrote that what makes a bar outstanding in 2023 is “the ability to be many things at once; to bridge the gap between N/A and full-proof, between futuristic minimalism and ultramaximalism and, perhaps most of all, between past and future… Grounded in tradition, with an eye on the future, these bars represent the best of right now.”

Room for Improvement makes its espresso martini with rum, Allen’s Coffee Brandy, cold brew, banana and a salty coconut foam. Photo by Angie Bryan

Writing specifically about Room for Improvement, Punch notes that “the self-proclaimed ‘halfway decent bar’ pairs serious cocktails with a resolutely unserious atmosphere. The bar’s irreverent ethos marks a deliberate departure from the reigning aesthetic of the sleek, lab-like cocktail bar. But beneath the divey front, the same rigor and attention to detail can be found in the menu of familiar classics – Negroni, Old-Fashioned, Cosmopolitan.

“In a space that feels like it’s been there for decades, Room for Improvement channels all the studied perfectionism of the cocktail multiverse into an IDGAF package, with drinks that prove that they secretly do,” the Punch review continued.

The feature also includes a recipe for Room for Improvement’s Espresso Martini with salted coconut foam. The owners could not immediately be reached for comment.

A May review of Room for Improvement in the Press Herald called the bar “pretty much perfect.”

In September, Brown was one of eight Portland chefs, restaurateurs and bartenders given Coastal New England Rising Star Awards by the hospitality industry publication StarChefs. Brown was previously bar manager at Crispy Gai and the former Baharat.

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