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Claire Jeffers

Claire Jeffers is a freelance writer living in Portland, Maine. Follow her on Twitter: @claireeats

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Posted: August 19, 2015

Mellow martinis and sweets at under-the-radar Bar of Chocolate in Portland

Written by: Claire Jeffers
Claire Jeffers photo

Claire Jeffers photo

Wharf Street on a weekend night is not lacking in noise pollution. Lines of people spill out onto the cobblestone lane, club music bounces from one brick building to the next, and there’s a good chance you’ll see several bachelorette parties buzz by in swarms.

But if you can brave the raucous Wharf Street, it still has some mellow charm up its sleeve.

For 10 years, owner Sarah Martin has been serving her house-made sweets at Bar of Chocolate, a cozy martini and dessert bar with plenty of space to lounge.

Browse all Maine’s watering holes and eateries: Maine Restaurant & Bar Directory

Martin was a bartender in Portland for years before she opened her own place, an idea that was inspired by an old customer who was a fan of her homemade chocolates. Today, Bar of Chocolate flies somewhat under the radar, but remains popular for groups of people who would prefer to have more conversation and a little less hearing damage.

Claire Jeffers photo

Claire Jeffers photo

The bar is open seven days a week starting at 4 p.m. and hosts a three-hour happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The signature martinis are offered for $7 (usually all $9), $4 house wines, and $4 well drinks.

There are 13 martinis on the menu – from a chocolate martini to a key lime pie, or an espresso martini to a Manhattan – but the customer favorite is perhaps most surprisingly the peanut butter martini. The bar makes up to 30 a night, often running out of the house made peanut butter liqueur. Martin suspects the drink is so popular because most people arrive with dessert in mind, so this sweet and creamy drink serves to kill two birds with one stone.

If you’d prefer to eat your dessert, there are at least 17 to choose from, including crème brûlée, carrot cake, peanut butter cake, Maine blueberry pie, and lots of chocolate items, like the chocolate cake with sea salt caramel frosting. Savory snacks include a cheese plate, tea sandwiches, a tapas plate, and Martin’s homemade baguette served with olive oil.

Bar of Chocolate's 13 martinis are all $7 during happy hour, including the Sazerac made with rye whiskey, a spritz of absinthe, Peychaud's bitters and simple syrup. Claire Jeffers photo

Bar of Chocolate’s 13 martinis are all $7 during happy hour, including the Sazerac made with rye whiskey, a spritz of absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters and simple syrup. Claire Jeffers photo

Bar of Chocolate tends to get crowded on the weekends, and maintains a steady clientele on weeknights. There are no TVs, and there aren’t any games or trivia nights, so you’ll have to make your own fun. This was all part of Martin’s master plan – she wanted to create a space where people could be comfortable, talk and focus on enjoying one another’s company (rather than competing with the din so common in other nearby bars). And based on the devotion of her clientele, it appears she has succeeded. Strong drinks, and tasty dessert, what’s not to love?


38 Wharf St., Portland | 207-773-6667 |
HOURS: Open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday; open until 12:45 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays
AMENITIES: Comfortable lounge seating, pillows at seats along the wall, large, clean bathrooms, dim lighting
PARKING: On street
BOTTOM LINE: Bar of Chocolate is a laid-back martini bar serving house made desserts in the Old Port. A great place to hang after the theater, a concert, or just a low-key night out on the town, Bar of Chocolate offers terrific service and a cozy atmosphere. The martinis are very strong.

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