Distiller Ned Wight can trace his heritage through a long line of distillers, starting with his great-great-great-grandfather John Jacob Wight, who ran the Sherwood Distillery in Hunt Valley, Maryland in the 1850s. The family business shuttered in 1958, and the legacy seemed lost to the annals of time. That is, until Wight?a former brewer at Allagash Brewing Co.?moved the operation and opened New England Distilling in Portland. Wight has filled his distillery with a blend of new and old-fashioned equipment, from a custom-built traditional copper pot still to barrel racks salvaged from his ancestral distillery.
Wight's spirits, like his distilling process, are an exercise in creative fusion. Each spirit's unique flavor comes from New England grain combined with recipes from around the world. This trio of craft spirits includes Gunpowder Rye, a spicy Maryland-style whiskey caramelized in the copper pot still, Ingenium Gin, a Dutch-style sipping gin made with exotic Southeast Asian botanicals, and Eight Bells Rum, crafted with Caribbean molasses and aged in bourbon barrels. Their unusual characteristics?and Wight's unorthodox operation?have earned praise from publications such as Maine Magazine.
Live music floats over the din of conversation and toasting pint glasses at Irish Twins Pub while chefs prepare classic bar bites in the kitchen. Onion rings fried in Guinness batter kick off the menu, which also includes buffalo chicken salads, Reuben sandwiches, pizzas, and subs stuffed with bangers, or savory irish sausages. Soft drinks and a collection of beers complement each dish, poured into 22-ounch imperial pint glasses, or 16-ounce American-style glasses.
Modernity has permeated both Thistles Restaurant's cuisine and decor, and helped earn it a Certificate of Excellence in 2013 from TripAdvisor. The restaurant is helmed by Chef Alejandro, whose kaleidoscope of culinary skills includes dishes popular in Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Contemporary fixtures shine light down on the smorgasbord of selections, and red, black, and white accents fill the dining space just as accent marks fill the menu.
A community-oriented coffeehouse and wine bar, The Local Buzz serves a morning, evening, and kids' menu of pastries, paninis, appetizers, and locally made baked goods. Pair a trio of nuts ($2.50), including organic nori and curry and maple cashews, with the hummus-, pita-, and olive-laden Mediterranean platter ($7.50) for a perfect midafternoon or early mid-dusk snack. Select a sip of tea or java from Coffee by Design or adopt an of-age quaff from diverse drink lists of wines and locally brewed beer. The Local Buzz plays host to a variety of events, making it an ideal destination for a lively family outing, an intimate evening date, or a hair-raising combination of both.
Frothy mugs of nine different draft beers and a belief that you can never use too many peppers complement chef Jon Russell's surfeit of steak, seafood, and pasta. He tosses hot peppers into his Peppers chicken dish and sprinkles peppercorns onto his signature steak, which is then flambéed in brandy. When taste buds are craving the saltiness of seafood and licking snowplow trails won't suffice, he grills Atlantic salmon, rubs sesame onto sushi-grade tuna steak, and weaves fettuccine around bits of lobster, shrimp, and scallops. He rounds out his menu with a selection of burgers, Mexican fare, and homemade desserts that guests can enjoy on the restaurant's patio or in the casual dining room with exposed brick and tropical stained-glass artwork.
Madden Beverage’s shelves boast an immense selection of more than 300 beers and 1,200 wines, offering libation lovers a plethora of regional and international flavors to explore. Prepare for next year’s super bowl soiree at UN headquarters by stocking up on hoppy delights from Madden’s cache of more than 250 microbrews, such as international award-winner Nektar ($8.99/six-pack), a balanced Bosnian beer brewed by Trappist monks. Grape aficionados can seek out budget-friendly vino for as little as $2.69 as well as practice their pairing skills by teaming up a crisp St. Urban Riesling ($12.99) with a seafood feast or a robust Pine & Post merlot ($6.99) with a chocolate soufflé or flambéed stamp. The Lolailo Sangria ($4.99) enlivens premeal appetizers or late-night tapas with a fruity amalgamation of flavors. Madden also equips burgeoning beer barons with home-brewing kits and supplies.