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Angie Bryan

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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Posted: February 4, 2019

Batson River Brewing and Distilling goes beyond making booze

Written by: Angie Bryan

Batson River Brewing and Distilling is in downtown Kennebunk.
Photos by Angie Bryan

Looking at Batson River Brewing and Distilling’s exterior, you know you’re in for a special experience. You pass a vintage truck as you climb past torches and an outdoor fireplace, then walk under cozy strings of lights through curtains into a screened-in patio with heat lamps and blankets.

Not feeling the outdoor love? Step inside into the beautifully-decorated tasting room, outfitted with a bird dog theme (minus the fur and poop). Whoever did the interior design clearly paid close attention to every detail, and the end result is stunning: dark wood, perfectly-chosen artwork, appropriate lighting and a wide variety of comfortable seating options, including some sofas upstairs, where there’s also the coolest Scrabble board ever – it’s giant and magnetic and hangs on the wall.

Batson River already brews its own beer and plans to start serving its own liquors soon.

Batson River opened in November in downtown Kennebunk and advertises itself as “Maine in a bottle.” It grows its own hops and botanicals, and sells its own beers but, when I visited last month, was not yet selling its own spirits. That day is coming soon. But no need for your liver to panic in the mean time; there’s a full bar full of other distillers’ products.

Tasting Room manager Molly Nevens, formerly of Liquid Riot, runs a terrific operation. Our server was one of the most knowledgeable servers I’ve encountered and genuinely passionate about the offerings. Beers (there are seven) were $8, and cocktails (six gin-based and six vodka ones) were $12 – that’s what we get for drinking before happy hour started. I knew day drinking would get me into trouble at some point! Had we waited just a little longer, beers would have been $5, and cocktails would have been $7.

Specialty cocktails and a flight of Baston River beers at the Kennebunk brewery.

I went with the Tarkington, a delightful mixture of vodka, cranberry juice, lime, vanilla, garam masala and Crème Yvette. (I could write an entire article about my love of Crème Yvette, a French digestive liqueur made from blackberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, wild strawberry and dried violet petals, but I’ll spare you.) Anyway, phenomenal. One of my drinking companions had a mule (the drink, not the pack animal); the other went for a $12 flight of four beers. Four percent of the profits at Batson River benefit Maine animal shelters, so we were filled with a sense of well-being and do-goodery as we enjoyed our drinks.

Millionaire’s shortcake and skillet mac and cheese are on the menu of small plates and desserts.

The food menu featured 13 small plates ranging from $4 to $12, as well as a few desserts. Most intriguing menu item? The $5 caramel “hopcorn,” a sweet popcorn with hop and pepper. We tried the $8 skillet mac and cheese with Gruyere and cheddar and the $6 millionaire’s shortcake with caramel, dark chocolate and sea salt. Six thumbs up.

Batson River Brewing and Distilling

WHERE: 12 Western Ave., Kennebunk
PHONE: (207) 967-8821
WEBSITE: batsonriver.com
HOURS: 4-11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
AMENITIES: Social hour 4-6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday ($7 cocktails, $5 beer and $5 small bites), indoor and outdoor fireplaces, three patios, classes on certain Saturdays, merchandise store, darts, shuffleboard and magnetic Scrabble.
BOTTOM LINE: The drinks, food and service all live up to the elegant and welcoming décor. Worth a visit the next time you’re anywhere remotely near Kennebunk. Plus, how could you not love a place that is offering a $25 class on beer cocktails?
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes and no. A ramp allows wheelchair users to enter, but all the seating is high, so a wheelchair user would be forced to sit below his or her drinking companions if unable to make it onto one of the high-up seats.

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