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Colleen Katana

Colleen Katana is a romance novelist by day and a cocktail reviewer by night. She lives in Portland where she can usually be found hunched over her laptop, wearing fabulous (albeit sometimes impractical) shoes. Instagram: katanacollins

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Posted: November 13, 2017

Start your vacation in the jetport with drinks at Shipyard or Linda Bean’s

Written by: Colleen Katana

It’s that time of year again. Now that we are a few weeks post-Halloween, Michael Buble has officially emerged from his cave and taken over all our radios with his velvet voice crooning holiday music to us. How many times can we hear “White Christmas” before it turns into a puke green Christmas?

Despite my acerbic humor, I actually love this time of year. I love the decorations. Family visits. Big meals around the table. Tree decorating. It brings all kinds of warm fuzzies to my insides. And it hasn’t been cold for so long that I’m bitter yet.

This time of year also brings many, many trips to the airport. If you are a Maine transplant (like I am), then between November and January, you’ll spend a good chunk of time at the Portland Jetport waiting around on standby or as your flight gets delayed. Or maybe you’ll be one of the to get the rare and coveted free upgrade to more legroom. And that, my friends, deserves a celebration.

Lucky for us Mainers who live nearest the Jetport, our airport is newly renovated, efficient and clean with two pretty good choices to imbibe while waiting. Where you decide to go may depend on your flight, how much time you have and which gate you’re assigned. There is a bar on each side of the airport, perfect for watching your gate as the minutes tick closer to your boarding time.

Linda Bean's cocktail menu includes options made with local spirits and ingredients. Photos by Colleen Katana

Linda Bean’s cocktail menu includes options made with local spirits and ingredients.
Photos by Colleen Katana

The first one I visited was Linda Bean’s Lobster Café. It was bright and airy with comfortable seating. It had cape-style décor with lots of references to lobsters. It was cute, quiet (despite being pretty busy) and clean.

Also, the menu is huge – maybe even overwhelmingly huge – in both food and beverage options. A massive variety of cocktails, beer and wine can sometimes hinders my ordering, but this particular morning (Linda Bean’s is open daily at 5 a.m. and until 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 8:15 p.m. the rest of the week), I was pleased to have choices. There was a list of breakfast cocktails as well as a local drink menu with cocktails created using local alcohol and ingredients. I loved that small touch; we’re in Portland (at least for a couple more hours until getting launched into the air), why not embrace it? Usually, when I’m drinking at an airport bar, I stick to a pour of whiskey or a glass of wine. But with such a great cocktail menu and since it was 11 a.m. (but 5 o’clock somewhere, am I right?), I ordered one of the coffee-based cocktails, the Iced Runaway ($12.89).

Linda Bean's Iced Runway is iced coffee, Jameson Irish whiskey and Kahlua, decorated with an abundant dollop of whipped cream.

Linda Bean’s Iced Runway is iced coffee, Jameson Irish whiskey and Kahlua, decorated with an abundant dollop of whipped cream.

It was a pretty standard recipe for a boozy coffee — iced coffee, Jameson Irish whiskey and Kahlua, decorated with an abundant dollop of whipped cream. It was creamy and sweet with a strong (I mean strong) kick of Jameson. Now, most people don’t complain when a drink is too boozy (especially in an airport), but it was too strong for my taste, tipping it into unbalanced territory. But if strong drinks don’t bother you, then this is a great choice.

While I drank the coffee, my husband went in an entirely different direction. He ordered the South Bound Flight ($12.89). It was a unique blend of flavors that came together in a surprisingly refined way. The 1800 Reposado mixed well with the twist of lime, agave, and muddled cucumber and cilantro. It was savory and refreshing and I highly recommend it for the refined tequila drinkers out there.

After Linda Bean’s, we went down to the other side of the gates to Shipyard, open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. It was packed. And honestly, walking in, I could see why. The ambiance was way cooler. With its wood accents and contemporary design, it felt more upscale than Linda Bean’s.

It was also very loud. Maybe it was simply because there were more people. Maybe the ambiance made it more of a pub. Maybe it was because the space was more enclosed with lower ceilings as opposed to Linda Bean’s, which was open. Whatever the reason, it was hard to hear boarding announcements — something to be wary of when you’re traveling.

The Shipyard Brewpub in the jetport was packed on a recent morning.

The Shipyard Brewpub in the jetport was packed on a recent morning.

The menu at Shipyard was very streamlined. There was no cocktail menu, just a list of spirits, beer and wine with the promise that the bartender can make whatever you want.

The thing is, when I’m given a list of spirits, I tend to freeze and not know what I want. I’m not a bartender. I’m not a mixologist. Heck, most days I don’t even know what I’m in the mood for until I see a list in front of me and I can whittle it down by process of elimination. So even more paralyzing for me than a large menu like Linda Bean’s is no menu, like at Shipyard.

So, when our server (who was curt and seemed annoyed that I wasn’t ready to order yet) asked us what we wanted, my husband got a Bloody Mary ($11.99) with Shipyard’s Ice Pik vodka. Then, our waiter turned to me, eyebrows raised, tapping his pen to the notebook. I panicked. I blurted out the first drink that came to mind: Tequila Sunrise.

Without a cocktail menu, you'll have to come up with your own concoction. A Tequila Sunrise isn't a bad option.

Without a cocktail menu, you’ll have to come up with your own concoction. A Tequila Sunrise isn’t a bad option.

As soon as he walked away with my order, I woke up out of my fog. What? Tequila Sunrise? I don’t even like them that much. Why did I order that? I’m at Shipyard. I should have ordered a beer! In any case, the Tequila Sunrise ($10.99) arrived, and it was actually pretty good, exactly what a Tequila Sunrise should taste like — tropical and sweet with a nice kick of tequila cutting through the juice. For those who don’t want to necessarily taste a lot of alcohol, but still want a strong drink, this is a solid choice.

My husband’s Bloody Mary was a bit lacking, and I think perhaps we’ve been spoiled with the amazing Bloody Marys you can get all around Portland. This one had hardly any spice; it was basically tomato juice with vodka.

I still think the Shipyard bar at the airport is a good option — we just ordered wrong. It’s not the place to get cocktails. It’s the place you go for cool ambiance and to get beer, wine, and a burger, whereas Linda Bean’s is the bar with more eclectic food and wider, creative cocktail menu.

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