The first rule of Lincolns: Do not talk about Lincolns. The second rule of Lincolns? Don’t use an 18-year-old “Fight Club” reference to talk about Lincolns.
Seriously, though, the problem with writing about Lincolns is that half the fun of going there is finding it. So, we will tell you everything you need to know about Lincolns except for its address or specific instructions on how to get in. It’s what the owners insist, but it’s also only right, being a speakeasy and all. Besides, we wouldn’t want to rob you of the tingly feeling of satisfaction when you do eventually find it on your own.
Lincolns opened for business in 2015 on Old Port Fest, every service industry worker’s favorite (read: least favorite) day of the year. Owners Angela and Nate Drinkwater and Mark Ohlson (who also owns MJ’s Wine Bar) decided to tell only their fellow service industry folks about the opening of Lincolns, both to serve as an escape from the insanity of Old Port Fest and to keep with the secretive spirit of the place. Their opening night was packed and got the word-of-mouth marketing ball rolling: A speakeasy was born.
Even return visitors like myself occasionally have a hard time getting into Lincolns, either because of prior drunkenness or the fact that the owners change the look of the hidden entrance regularly. Once (or if) you do get in, you are met with a long bar, dim lighting, red walls, velvet couches and all the Abraham Lincoln wall art you could possibly want. Intentionally bad cell phone service in the subterranean location and no Wi-Fi connection forces patrons to actually interact with each other rather than their phones, sadly a novel concept in today’s plugged-in world.
Equally as enticing as its secret location is the price of Lincolns beverages. Everything on the menu costs one crisp $5 bill — no more, no less, cash only (ATM outside). It took me longer than I’d like to admit to understand that Lincolns was named for the legal tender and not a profound appreciation one of America’s finest presidents, but I got there.
With six beers on tap (Allagash White, Harpoon Cider and Peak Organic Pilsner to name a few), one red wine, one white and no mixed drinks more complicated than liquor and a mixer, ordering a drink at Lincolns couldn’t be any less complicated.
Calendar events at Lincolns are also simple and to the point. Its Thursday comedy night is consistently well attended, probably because of the dim lighting, small stage and lounge vibe. Sundays are for a weekly rock, paper, scissors tournament, which costs — you guessed it — $5 to enter, winner takes all.
If you’re going to open a bar in Portland, it needs to be unique. If that bar is going to be a speakeasy, strict adherence to the rules is key: secret location, hidden entrance and, if you’re Lincoln’s, $5 for everything.
WHERE: An undisclosed location on Market Street in Portland
HOURS: 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
AMENITIES: Everything’s $5, strong drinks, cash only (ATM right outside the door), dim lighting, swanky couches, well-attended comedy night, secret location
BOTTOM LINE: A speakeasy where everything on the menu is $5 cash — aka a “Lincoln.” So simple a caveman can do it!
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: No