Entering Alisson’s, a Kennebunkport institution since 1973, is like walking into a giant hug. The staff welcomes you as if you’ve been coming for years, and many of the customers have been.
My drinking companion and I sat at the bar on comfortable wooden barstools with backs, smiling when we found both purse hooks and chargers underneath the bar. The bar area is spacious, with both high-top tables and regular ones, the music was at a decent volume, and there are TVs for sports fans.
The toughest thing about Alisson’s is deciding what to order. There are 12 specialty cocktails, and we had only two livers. We ended up going for the $8 Diablo Margarita and (don’t judge me) the $9.50 Coco Puff. The margarita contained house-infused jalapeno tequila, fresh lime, triple sec and a house-made sour mix, and the result was tangy, spicy perfection that we felt all the way into our fingers. The Coco Puff was a classy version of an adult milkshake: crème de cacao, vodka and tequila cream. Some readers may be wondering why I would order a dessert drink at the beginning of the evening. I say, the liver wants what the liver wants. I stand by my choice, which was magnificent.
My friend and I were there on a Tuesday, which is Pu-Pu For Two-sday at Alisson’s. (Luckily, we saw that in writing instead of just hearing the bartender say it out loud, otherwise we might have fled in terror.) Every Tuesday, Alisson’s offers a platter of three Asian-inspired appetizers for $11.95. Ours contained pork dumplings (we could choose steamed or fried, but we chose steamed because, as evidenced by my drink order, we are complete health nuts), Thai chili chicken wings and pan-seared sesame-crusted ahi tuna with a sugar-cured jalapeno lime aioli.
The dumplings were excellent, but the house-made sauce that accompanied them took things to the next level. It was a cross between a duck sauce and a sweet and sour sauce, and we came close to ordering a martini glass filled with it. The Thai chicken wings were even better, achieving the perfect amount of spice without pain. The highlight, however, was the melt-in-your-mouth tuna. In other words, we did not pooh-pooh the pu-pu.
All right, back to the drinks. Alisson’s has several wines (10 whites, two roses, nine reds and one sparkling) available in 6- and 9-ounce portions, with prices from $7 to $14. There also are 22 beers on tap. We were there for the cocktails, though, so for Round 2, my friend ordered the $9 End of the Rainbow Martini, a masterful non-cloying blend of gin, elderflower liqueur and fresh lemon. I went with the predictably delicious $7 Happy on the Hey Now (banana rum cream, coconut rum and pineapple juice), which so immediately transported me to a beach that I asked my friend to cornrow my hair. (She declined.)
There’s so much more I want to tell you about Alisson’s, but I’m running out of room. Deviled egg potato salad! Lobster poutine! Hilarious sandwich names such as the Chickquille O’Neal and the Henny Chesney! I guess you’ll just have to go see for yourself. You won’t regret it.
WHERE: 11 Dock Square, Kennebunkport
PHONE: (207) 967-4841
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
AMENITIES: Parking lot, private room upstairs that fits up to 50 people, heavy calendar of events
BOTTOM LINE: Friendly atmosphere, delicious food and original cocktails – there’s a reason it’s been in business for 45 years!
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No