The favorite drink of sailors and pirates, rum has a history of association with rebellion. Portland’s famous Rum Riot occurred on June 2, 1855, when a group of Mainers discovered that Mayor Neal Dow — nicknamed by his constituents “Napoleon of Temperance” — who had enacted the nation’s first ban on booze four years before, had a stash of rum in the basement of City Hall. He claimed to have stockpiled the liquor to distribute for “medicinal and mechanical” purposes, which seemed hypocritical to the mob storming City Hall. Things got ugly, rocks were thrown, a man from Deer Isle was killed and seven others were wounded.
Thankfully, the mercurial Neal Dow is long gone. But Bowstreet Distributing, a liquor distributor in Freeport, is remembering the Rum Riot with what else but a series of cocktail events from May 31 to June 2.
Saturday, May 31, 4-6 p.m. | Top of the East | 157 High St., Portland
The pink drink made famous by “Sex and the City” was created by legendary NYC bartender Dale Degroff, who served it to legions of celebrities at the Rainbow Room. Portland’s version of that celebrated cocktail lounge is the swanky Top of the East at the Westin Harborside, where event sponsors Reyka Vodka and Solerno Liqueur will put their own spin on the drink: a Blood Orange Cosmo.
Sunday, June 1 | 6-9 p.m. | Infiniti Fermentation & Distillation | 250 Commercial St., Portland
A new generation of distillers are once again putting Maine rum in the spotlight. At this event, you can meet some of them and watch a special run of Infiniti’s Rhum Blanc off their still.
Sunday, June 1 | 9 p.m. – midnight | Portland Hunt & Alpine Club | 75 Market St., Portland
Restaurant and bar industry folks sure love their Fernet Branca, and if you do too, join them for Fernet drink specials and your chance to pick up some Fernet swag.
Monday, June 2, Noon – 2 p.m. | Eventide Oyster Co. | 86 Middle St., Portland
Bartenders and other restaurant workers get their chance to relax over brunch on Mondays, which Eventide offers every week. Reyka Vodka is hosting this event, so the Bloody Marys are sure to be good and strong.
Monday, June 2, 6 – 9 p.m. | Casablanca Cruises | 18 Custom House Wharf | $15 | Tickets
Keep the groove going with a 1970s-style cruise around Casco Bay, sponsored by Galliano and Double Cross Vodka. Drink Harvey Wallbangers, listen to Yacht Rock jams and if you’ve got it, sport some 1970’s yachting attire (whatever that is).