Malt! Who goes there?
No, it’s not a typo. Loaded with Bailey’s Irish Cream, chocolate, malt and coffee, “Malt! Who goes there?” is one of the many cleverly-named cocktails offered at Silly’s With a Twist, the latest addition to Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood.
Located at 40 Washington Ave., Silly’s With a Twist opened in the midst of last year’s holiday season. Colleen Kelley, owner of Silly’s Restaurant, had always dreamed of opening a bar with her sister Shelley. When the building next to Silly’s became available, the siblings jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s been a three year labor of love to open the Twist,” said Shelley Kelley, bar manager at Silly’s With a Twist. “Owning a bar has been something we wanted to do for a long time, and we were finally able to make it happen.”
Similar in size to Silly’s Restaurant, Silly’s With a Twist has just over 40 seats, not including extra seating at the bar. The intimate setting is enhanced by a closed fireplace, adding warmth and charm to the cozy space. On each table are card games like UNO, Mad Gab and Pictionary, giving customers a chance to interact without relying on technology.
“We don’t have any plans to have free Wi-Fi or even televisions at the bar,” said Shelley. “I want people to come in and feel social the good old-fashioned way.”
Customers can enjoy games of Trivial Pursuit on a bar top inlaid with hundreds of intricately arranged wine corks. Shelley completed the project with friends before the restaurant opened, using corks she had been saving for over 12 years.
“A lot of the stuff on the walls comes from our customers, or it’s repurposed by us. We like to recycle as much as possible,” said Shelley.
A cuvenee system at Silly’s With a Twist allows bartenders to serve wine using a “wine tap” that operates on nitrogen gas. The process gives wines a longer shelf life, as less oxygen is able to enter the bottles. White and red wines are available by the glass and by the bottle, with a selection of German, Italian, French and Chilean wines, among others.
The beer list is also reasonably sized, with draught choices like Southern Tier IPA, Long Trail Double Bag and the gluten-free Woodchuck Winter Cider. Fans of local breweries can enjoy bottles of Belfast Bay McGovern’s Oatmeal Stout, Shipyard Export and Peak Organic Winter Session Ale. Draft and bottled beers change seasonally, with a spring selection available in April.
“If you like the cheaper stuff, we have that too,” Shelley said. Tall boys of Narragansett, Bud Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon are budget friendly at $3.
The cocktail list at Silly’s With a Twist is where it really gets interesting. Remember the Kool-Aid Man? The over-sized pitcher of sugar-flavored water is known for his grand entrances and this time he brought a few friends to the party. Vodka and sparkling wine join Kool-Aid in the “Oh Yeaahh!” cocktail, a Silly’s With a Twist original.
Other boozy concoctions include the “Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster,” a blend of Absolut vodka, Jameson’s whiskey, Peach Schnapps, orange juice, soda water, hot sauce and “blue stuff” — a sweet beverage with hints of blueberry and raspberry, similar to Kool-Aid or Bug Juice.
For heat freaks, Silly’s With a Twist offers an extra spicy Bloody Mary, served with a garnish of pepperoni, cheese and olives. According to Kelley, “extra spicy” is not to be taken lightly.
“You will burn your mouth, I promise you,” said Shelley.
The mix for the Bloody Mary uses Colleen Kelley’s homemade hot sauce, a molasses-based fusion of sweet and savory flavors. A vegan version of the Bloody Mary is also available, using a hot sauce made with Sambal Oelek chile paste and tamari, a slightly thicker, complex flavored soy sauce. The vegan Bloody has stronger notes of cracked pepper and is served with a garnish of green pepper, cocktail onion and olives.
Vegan, gluten and dairy-free options are available across the board at Silly’s With a Twist, from the cocktail menu to various food options.
“One of Colleen’s goals when she bought Silly’s was to have something for everyone,” said Shelley. “The same thing applied when we started Silly’s With a Twist.”
Customers are able to order from the Silly’s menu until the kitchen closes at 9 p.m., which is when the Late Night “Twist” Menu takes effect. An evolving list of tasty appetizers, the menu features dishes like Nacho Nacho Man nachos, the Empire Strikes Mac macaroni and cheese and the Quesa This, Quesa That quesadilla.
While Silly’s With a Twist does serve alcohol, the bar mainly serves as an extended dining room for Silly’s. Because of this, customers do not need to be over the age of 21 to be at the bar. Families, friends and co-workers are free to take advantage of the friendly atmosphere at Silly’s With a Twist, whether it’s for a game of cards or in preparation for a night out on the town.
Only time will tell what the future holds for Silly’s With a Twist, but the Kelley sisters remain optimistic. A happy hour, outdoor seating area and more late night food options are some forthcoming possibilities for the new bar. Acknowledging the diversity of Silly’s With a Twist customers is the utmost priority, and the Kelleys succeed by offering unique food and drink options in a fun, quirky setting.
“We don’t have a typical demographic, and I love that,” said Shelley. “What we do have are some of the best customers in the world, and we’re most appreciative.”