As the month of April draws to a close, a couple things are happening: Flowers are finally starting to show signs of blooming and the days are getting longer and warmer, both of which lead to the conclusion that day-drinking season is almost upon us yet again.
In honor of this upcoming seasonal shift, we checked out the tasting room and bar at Stroudwater Distillery down on Thompson’s Point in Portland.
Stroudwater opened its doors last summer, along with the majority of the other tenants of the Brick North building on Thompson’s Point. With Cellardoor Winery and Bissell Brothers Brewing residing a couple doors down, it follows that a distillery, complete with tasting room and production facility, would round out the boozy offerings on the Point.
The interior of Stroudwater is bright and sunny with a modern decor, including a collection of decorative oars hanging from the ceiling; one would hardly suspect that this building used to be a train repair and storage facility in the late 1800s.
There are two bars, and each serves a different purpose. Over to the right, visitors will find the tasting bar where, for $8, you can order a flight of all four of Stroudwater’s small batch spirits: vodka, gin, bourbon and rye. Plus, you get to keep the rocks glass after it’s all over, and who doesn’t like free stuff?
Once you have a better idea of what you might like (and a bit of a buzz going), head toward the back of the room and grab a seat at the cocktail bar. This, for lack of a better term, is where the magic happens, as all of the bartenders at Stroudwater are friendly, experienced and super talented.
The menu opens with the first known definition of “cocktail,” taken from The Balance and Columbian Repository of 1806: “A stimulating liquor … it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.” That pretty much hits the nail right on the fuddled head. Check out the selection of 1806 cocktails before perusing the more modern offerings inside.
I am a huge fan of the Brick North Bloody ($9), made with Stroudwater’s vodka and proprietary bloody mary mix. Spicy without being overwhelming, boozy without being too dangerous, it’s so tasty that it’s hard to not order another one right away.
Resisting that temptation, I also got the T.P. Gimlet ($9), made with gin, lime and lime syrup. This was tart and refreshing and went down easy, making me wish for sunny days and long summer nights.
Tasting rooms like Stroudwater Distillery are great, not only for the high quality product they are creating, but also for the extra mile they go to educate their patrons on what, exactly, they are drinking. It’s easy to order a gin and tonic, but it’s pretty cool to be able to pick out the flavors in the gin itself.
WHERE: 4 Thompson’s Point
WEBSITE: stroudwaterdistillery.com and facebook.com/stroudwaterdistillery
HOURS: Noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday
AMENITIES: Two separate bars for tastings and drinks, two flat screen TVs, friendly and knowledgeable staff, open layout with plenty of seating, view of the production facility in the back, retail bottles for sale
BOTTOM LINE: Head down to Stroudwater Distillery if you are in the mood for something different. Whether you’re looking for a tasting of spirits or something from the carefully curated selection of cocktails, Stroudwater is all about high quality, so you really can’t go wrong.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes