Shahin Khojastehzad has leased a spot at 52 Alder Street as a production space for his new company Handshake Digestif Bitters (instagram).
In selecting the elements for his flagship product, Khojastehzad is drawing on his Persian family heritage and the flavors he was exposed to when growing up in Portland.
A Persian digestive bitters marrying 28 botanicals & spices from around the world & Maine. As an Iranian immigrant who grew up in Portland, Maine this is a collage of my memories of both my homes. Persian saffron, tea, sumac & limo ommani (black fermented limes) is the Silk Road in a drop. Maine hops, spruce tips, dark robust maple syrup & Chaga mushrooms bring the woods to your glass. Aromas of fresh citrus, a dance of tea & wood on the tongue. Can be drunk straight after a meal to help aid digestion or used in your favorite cocktail for a dash of zest. It’s a handshake of cultures & memories, proving that we are better together.
Khojastehzad is a longtime member of the Portland bar community and a co-owner of Novare Res. His late mother was the owner of Shahnaz Persian Grille on Forest Ave (the sign is still visible on the building at 795 Forest Ave).
Khojastehzad has shared some of the influences guiding him on the launch of his own company and product development,
My passion for the food & beverage industry has brought me around the world & I’ve encountered a lot of regional herbal elixirs for after a big meal. In those travels flavors, memories & sensory experiences have left their imprints. Handshake is picking up where my late mother’s Shahnaz Persian Grille left off, adding some Iranian back spice to Portland’s culture. This project is important to me to further POC in Maine’s food & beverage industry. All the ingredients tell a story of growing up with friends from different cultures in Portland (Lemongrass from Cambodia , Hibiscus from Caribbean, Italian digestivos from my wife’s maternal side of the family, Roobias Tea from Africa, etc). I’ve used a lot of these ingredients in in my career. Like a Persian rug, it’s threading together cultures into a beautiful tapestry.
Khojastehzad hopes to launch his first product this fall. Follow Handshake on instagram to stay up to date on progress.