Portland Whiskey

The Portland Phoenix has published a feature article about Portland’s budding distilling industry that highlights many of the behind the scenes collaborations between distillers and brewers in Portland.

What’s a beer-loving city to do in whiskey trending times? Distill. And collaborate. With the current popularity of supporting local business and drinking whiskey in general, it is prime time for small-scale distilleries to follow the lead of the microbrew culture and create artisanal spirits. The beginning of this micro-distillery movement in Portland is evident with the work of New England Distilling and Maine Craft Distilling. As these local distillers work to perfect and define their craft, they are finding little or no competition from their distilling and brewing peers, but rather, endless opportunities for collaboration.

This week’s Phoenix also includes a whiskey cocktail crawl by restaurant critic Brian Duff.
Perhaps because its assertiveness stands up to mixing, Bulleit bourbon and rye whiskey show up in many Portland bars’ specialty drinks. In the Wally Hardbanger at Sonny’s, its spice shines through the anise of Galliano and the sour of lemon. In a hot toddy at Figa (now hosting special events like last weekend’s art bar), the Bulleit mellowed as it blended with honey and the expert mix of clove and cinnamon created by Figa’s neighbor, Home Grown Tea. It’s a great winter drink.

The Bollard: Maine Beer, The Holy Donut, Scarpa’s

The July edition of The Bollard is now out. It includes:

  • A feature article on the latest wave of craft brewers to open in Maine: Maine Beer Company, Bull Jager, Rising Tide, Bunker Brewing, Baxter Brewing, and Oxbow.
  • A review of The Holy Donut (194 Park Ave)
  • A bar review of Scarpa’s (15 Exchange St)

The articles aren’t on The Bollard website yet, but they usually posts them up in the week following print publication. In the meantime you can find free print copies in just about every coffee shop and cafe in Portland.

Obscure Holiday Cocktails III

As in 2009 and 2010, Dawn at Appetite Portland rounded up a several Portland food bloggers for the annual Obscure Holiday Cocktails tasting party. Each one of us was challenged to come up and serve our own contribution to the party with S. from Edible Obsessions providing cheese pairing for each of the courses. This year we sipped our way through the Christmas Bellringer, Greek Airmail (my entry), Lion’s Pride, Whispers of the Frost and Tom & Jerry.

My favorite of the evening was the Lion’s Pride, a mix of St. Germain, Gin, egg whites, lime juice, Peychaud’s and finished off with black pepper and lime zest.

For details and opinion on all the drinks and cheese pairing check out these reports from Appetite Portland, Edible Obsessions, and The Blueberry Files.

Drinking Culture

An article in Sunday’s Boston Globe reports on “Maine’s new drinking culture”. John Myers, Hugo’s, Blue Spoon and the Urban Farm Fermentory are all mentioned. (via Edible Obsessions)

John Myers, a traditional saloonist and cocktail historian, tends bar at The Grill Room, a steakhouse with a wood-burning grill in the center of the Old Port here. Myers, looking like a Wild West gunslinger with his wool vest and bushy beard, stands in the lamplight – a sommelier of cocktails ready to shake or stir.

Wine Service and Choice, Theater Food & Infusions

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes advice on improving wine lists and wine service in Portland’s restaurants,

“The server who constantly points people to Chardonnay and Merlot,” Chase said, “might be a nice person. But being nice isn’t the only part of being a good server.” Amen, brother. I’d take a nice enough server who took genuine interest in her kitchen’s menu and wine list over a boatload of trying-too-hard “how’re we doings?” and “you guys” “you all set with thats?”

a report on the new healthy choices for snacks at Maine movie theaters,

You rarely find the words “movie theater” and “health food” in the same sentence, but this could change. As more Mainers seek out healthier fare and adopt alternative diets, cinemas around the state are responding with new menu offerings.

and an article about the current trend for bartenders to develop their own infusions.

Monday Market, Tequila & Macrobiotics

Today’s Press Herald reports on efforts to bring the Monday Farmers Market back to life,

Farmers on the wait list said they won’t come on Mondays because no customers attend. They can’t afford to take time from planting and harvesting to travel downtown and not sell anything. Likewise, customers won’t come on Mondays because no farmers attend.

It’s a self-defeating cycle, but a group of immigrant farmers will soon try to revive the Monday market. Dawud Ummah, president of the Center for African-American Heritage, is coordinating the effort.

an article about tequila featuring staff from Zapoteca,

For a lot of people, sitting in front of a line of three shots of tequila might conjure some flashbacks involving a pinch of salt, a lemon wedge and a pounding headache. But the shots that come in a flight of tequila at Zapoteca, a new Mexican restaurant and tequileria in Portland, are meant to be sipped and savored like a fine single malt Scotch, not downed in one gulp by a drunken college student.

and an article about the macrobiotic diet and the macrobiotic cooking classes at Five Season Cooking School,

The school is run by Lisa Silverman, and it hosts frequent visits from well-known macrobiotic teachers.

Next week, Jessica Porter, a former Portland resident and author of “The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics,” will teach a class at the school. At the end of September, internationally acclaimed macrobiotic educator Warren Kramer will come to the school to offer a lecture and teach a class.

Maine Farming & Looking Past the Pancake

An article in the Food & Dining section of today’s Press Herald looks past the pancake at cocktail and other drink ideas that incorporate maple syrup,

We usually run stories on how the season is going and share ideas for what you can do with all that springtime sweetness besides pour it over pancakes and ice cream. This year, inspired by a maple latte from Arabica, I decided to take a look at maple drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

and the Natural Foodie column exams how Maine’s growing network of small farms creates a better food system for the state.

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maine is home to 8,100 farms, and more than 90 percent of them are classified as small operations. Maine is also ahead of the curve in the organic farming movement, with the number of certified farms doubling between 2006 and 2008, the latest years for which the USDA’s figures are available.

Obscure Holiday Cocktail Tasting 2010

Appetite Portland, Edible Obsessions, The Blueberry Files and I recently got together for the 2010 obscure holiday tasting. My favorite was The Ultimate Holiday, a combination of bourbon, grenadine, orange and lime juice and ginger ale.

Citrusy and smoky with a bitter bite, The Ultimate Holiday was a massive improvement over The Grinch. An alcoholic twin to grapefruit juice, the cloudy, pinkish concoction was flat-out marvelous. While concurring with me on it’s obvious merits, Adam questioned the “Christmasyness” of the bourbon-based tipple – asserting that it was more appropriate for a Jamaican beach. He had a point. Perhaps the word “holiday” in the title was intended as the broader British definition, meaning “vacation.” Ah, well. . .