Visit MaineToday's profile on Pinterest.

About The Author


Erik Neilson

Erik Neilson is a writer, musician and passionate food-head based in Portland.

Send an email | Read more from Erik

Posted: March 2, 2018

Hardshore Distilling is the spot for pre-dinner gin drinks

Written by: Erik Neilson

There’s no getting around the fact that Portland has seen a fair amount of change in the past five years. No area exemplifies the rapid amount of growth the city has seen better than inner Washington Avenue, which has become nothing short of a dining destination. Among Izakaya Minato, Công Tử Bột, Terlingua, Drifter’s Wife and others, some of the best food in the city can be found on this tiny stretch of road.

For pre-dinner drinks, Hardshore Distilling has you covered.

Located right in the thick of what inner Washington has to offer, Hardshore Distilling operates a modest tasting room with high ceilings, a sturdy concrete bar and seating for maybe 20 people. It’s equal parts spacious and intimate, with a cavernous back hall just itching for more stills and an expanded lineup of spirits.

At Hardshore’s tasting room, its Original Gin takes center stage. The gin itself starts clean with absolutely no bitter qualities, giving way to earthy, herbal spice and bright, tropical notes of juniper. With a tight, prickly finish, it’s the only spirit offered, but that doesn’t mean the drinks are one note.

There’s no better starting point at Hardshore Distilling than the classic gin and tonic. With a strong pour, it’s one of the best pre-dinner drinks a person can ask for in the neighborhood, served with a side bottle of Fever Tree tonic for customized mixing. It’s refreshing, herbal and somehow stiff without being too boozy or difficult to drink. At $6, it may be the best value in town for a cocktail of this quality.

For those looking for something a bit different, the Winter Negroni (a combination of gin, house herbal infusion and chili-coffee bitter soda) is a perfect example of the different directions gin can take. It feels like an Old Fashioned in some ways: spirit driven with a spicy bite that sticks around for more than mere seconds. Bordering on sweet without going too far, the drink shines in its balance of tropical and chili notes and would serve as an excellent nightcap.

Hardshore Distilling’s tasting room has been open for only a year and a half, and there’s room for improvement. Although there’s plenty of great food right nearby, the tasting room could benefit from offering light snacks to patrons in the vein of Oxbow Brewing Co., located next door. It would also be nice to see how Hardshore’s gin plays off of other spirits, which – at the moment – its licensing doesn’t allow.

Regardless, Hardshore Distilling is a fitting addition to the neighborhood, and a no-brainer for those who are waiting on a table nearby or simply in the mood for an excellent cocktail.

Hardshore Distilling

WHERE: 53 Washington Ave.
PHONE: 536-0592
HOURS: 5-8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2-8 p.m. Saturday, 2-6 p.m. Sunday
AMENITIES: Tasting room, industrial décor, casual atmosphere
BOTTOM LINE: With excellent gin and an extremely fair price point, the tasting room at Hardshore Distilling is hands-down one of the best places on the peninsula to grab a G&T, before dinner or not.

Up Next: