A hundred years ago, hotel bars held more clout. A hotel bar was where you imbibed and socialized – they’d have the best service and the best ingredients, plus, it was a place to see new faces. The ever-transient atmosphere of a bar is rather romantic, after all. Travelers are coming and going, some on business, others for long vacations. There’s mystery – who will show up tonight? Who will I meet? Not to mention, dozens of classic drinks were invented in hotel bars, too, like the Sidecar and the Bloody Mary, or the Hanky Panky and the Sherry Cobbler.
These days, Portland is crowded with hotels, which is great if you need a place to sleep, and even better if you need a drink. Like hotels of yore, some of Portland’s own are picking up where history left off and reviving the hotel bar tradition, one cocktail at a time.
Glass Lounge in Portland’s Hyatt Place is a swanky, ground level operation that looks out to Fore Street’s bustling shopping district. Inside, Glass evokes a sixties vibe, with retro Scandinavian furniture upholstered with blue vinyl, splashes of bright oranges, reds and blues throughout the room, and a nightly classic film plays from a projector screen on one wall. On a recent night, “That Touch of Mink” was playing on repeat with no sound.
Food and beverage manager Josh Miranda is somewhat of a movie buff – he attended New York University’s film school – and likes the effect old-time movies have on people. He often notices groups standing outside on the street looking in, sometimes laughing at a memorable scene during “Elizabeth Taylor Night” or “Paul Taylor Weekend.” There are no TVs in Glass, which is something Miranda was insistent upon, and it works – the nightly movies offer up something different, and helps to give Glass its own personality, separate from Hyatt’s otherwise corporate décor.
Miranda has worked in Portland bars since the late ’80s when he was barely 18, and was most recently at Top of the East before Hyatt Place and a local management company recruited him to run Glass. Since opening last year, Miranda has hired an exceptional team of bartenders (one of whom, Madison, is the owner of The Marshmallow Cart, a homemade traveling s’more cart often parked on Commercial Street) and created an impressive bar menu – his pride and joy being the cocktails and the robust high-end scotch and bourbon list.
At the time of this review, the drink offerings were presented in a trifold menu, but Miranda says this will change in the coming weeks. He plans to have one large sheet of drink listings, and many of the cocktails will be changing, although he plans to keep some of his most popular creations: Tequila Mockingbird, Some Like It Hot, Fig Infused Sidecar, and the Smoke and Glass Manhattan. And in addition to the “Strong,” “Savory,” and “Fresh” sections of his cocktail menu, he’ll be adding a “Bitters” section as well. He purchases many of his bitters at Vena’s Fizz House in Portland.
From 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Glass offers select cocktails for $6, like the house punch, wines by the glass for $5, and select beers for $3. There’s also a solid selection of craft beers, as well as two ciders available. And starting this month, there will be a few outdoor tables along the sidewalk.
Expect a crowd at Glass Friday and Saturday nights and a steady workweek crowd starting at 4 p.m. every day.
Glass is a great addition to Portland’s growing hotel scene, and offers perhaps the most unique drink menu you will find at any hotel lounge or restaurant in town.
433 Fore St., Portland | 207-775-1000 | portlandoldport.place.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/glass.html
HOURS: 4 pm. to 1 a.m. daily
AMENITIES: Nightly old-times movies (no sound); hotel lobby bathrooms; comfortable backed bar stools; access to Starbucks café in lobby; big windows for people watching; outdoor seating
BOTTOM LINE: Glass Lounge at Hyatt Place is a swanky hotel bar with a retro vibe and great craft cocktails. Good for a daytime drink with friends or coworkers, or a fancy night on the town, Glass’s central downtown location creates a buzzing metropolitan atmosphere, where you will find exceptional service, impressive bourbon and scotch offerings, and imaginative cocktails.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes