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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: May 21, 2018

Quill gets creative with cordials, especially for a bookstore

Written by: Angie Bryan

Interior of Quill in Westbrook
Photos by Angie Bryan

My first thought when I walked into Quill Books & Beverage in Westbrook was that I had walked into the wrong place. Its wide open spaces and stark décor make it look like an art gallery or a pop-up shop; even once I neared the bar part of the space, I thought that it might be more of a coffee shop than an actual bar. Determined to engage my alcohol-seeking radar, however, my friend and I sat at the bar and asked for a drink menu. From that moment on, our afternoon became increasingly delightful.

Kicking it off was one of the most unusual drinks menus I’ve ever seen. A longtime lover of white port, a drink I have only very rarely seen on a menu, I knew I had to order the white port and tonic. I figured it would either be one of my favorite new flavor combinations or a terrible mistake.

Neither of us were familiar with Cappelletti, an Italian wine-based aperitif which Food & Wine magazine has described as “Campari’s more drinkable cousin,” so my equally adventurous drinking buddy ordered the Cappelletti spritz. When our drinks arrived we took a hesitant sip and immediately smiled with relief. Both drinks were refreshingly light, full of flavor and absolutely perfect for a spring or summer afternoon.

Drinks at Quill

As we chatted with the bartender, we learned that the bookstore and bar only has a wine and beer license, leading the staff to get creative with vermouths and bitters. So many other places serve regular cocktails that they decided to go in a different direction, and the result has been a perfect match for a business that is not only a bookstore, but also increasingly a community space.

The non-bar seating is spacious, easily accommodating strollers and wheelchairs; a cheery chalkboard calendar lists a wide variety of activities and special events taking place at Quill: drag queen story hour, live music, speed-dating, board game nights, all-day happy hour on Mondays, poetry nights and more. Several book clubs already meet there regularly, local art is hung (and for sale) on the walls, the bar stocks a large number of board games and the book selection heavily favors books written by people of color and women.

In addition to the specialty “cocktails,” which range from $5 to $8, patrons can also order from a well-thought-out selection of local beers ($3 to $6.50), seven wines ($7 to $9), Maine roasted coffee, a variety of toasts, oatmeal, hot and cold sandwiches, salads and typical bar snacks such as hummus, olives and charcuterie platters.

My companion and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and I suspect that I would become a regular if I lived in Westbrook. The only negative aspect was that we both found the barstools uncomfortable, a problem which we could easily solve by sitting at a regular table or in the seating area with sofas and armchairs. If that’s the biggest problem that a brand-new business has, then it’s off to a wonderful start.


WHERE: 1 Westbrook Common, Westbrook
PHONE: (207) 591-0056
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday
AMENITIES: Spacious seating area, board games, books for sale, changing table in the bathroom, full calendar of special events and activities, free wifi access
BOTTOM LINE: A welcoming, family-friendly community space with a small but creative menu
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, although the door to the otherwise wheelchair-friendly bathroom is extremely heavy and has no automatic opening button, so a customer in a wheelchair would most likely need assistance opening it.

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