Hardshore Distilling Company
I remember when I was in my mid twenties working three jobs and trying my best to save my hard earned money...surprisingly teaching is not the lucrative profession so many believe it to be (insert copious amounts of sarcasm here). On Fridays after work when my colleagues and I would head to the local watering hole, I was always conscientious about how much money I was spending. I didn’t want to drink beer after beer but what could I get to languidly sip that wouldn’t break the budget or dissolve into a complete mess? I settled on a gin and tonic with extra limes which became a go to when I wanted to hang with friends but not break my budget.
Thankfully, as I grew older and both my budget and palette expanded, I was able to start sampling some real craft gins, ones which are possible to drink on the rocks and do not just melt away accompanied by some flat tonic and a sad lime. One of my favorite gin in recent years has come from Hardshore Distilling Company in Portland, Maine. The accolades heaped on the Portland food and drink scene are highly deserved and Hardshore is well worth a visit.
Located in the Bayside/Munjoy Hill section of downtown Portland, Hardshore and its surroundings could easily make for an eventful Saturday afternoon and evening jaunt. Located in (what appears to be) a converted garage, Hardshore’s neighbors include Maine Mead Works, Oxbow Blending and Bottling, Coffee by Design, Drifter’s Wife wine bar and Cong Tu Bot, a Vietnamese noodle house. A few blocks away is Maine Craft Distilling, Rising Tide Brewing, an oyster bar, a market and countless other local gems.
Hardshore Distilling specializes in gin. Only gin. Hardshore Original Gin to be specific. You don’t win best craft gin distillery in America if you haven’t created a phenomenal liquor. While Hardshore has been working on other spirits, they won’t be released until they are perfected. If their gin is any indication, the other products will be worth the wait. I find at most craft distilleries they highlight the laundry list of ingredients from grandpa’s secret prohibition gin recipe and it seems the more botanicals, the better. Hardshore’s gin has only five botanicals...and let me tell you that is all it needs. Hardshore Original Gin is smooth - it went wonderfully in the inventive and fresh cocktails prepared and on its own it was velvety and sippable...no lime or tonic necessary. Mint and woody herb tasting notes, followed by that signature juniper bite create the perfect balance for this handcrafted gin.
The tasting room is bright and dominated by a gigantic, gorgeous copper still. Funky art, a concrete bar and wooden accents give the feeling of the best home bar that you’ve never been to. Comfy leather chairs, stools and wooden Adirondack chairs provide plenty of places to relax with friends and in warmer weather the doors open to create a small patio. The bartenders were friendly and made some seriously incredible drinks. Using fresh herbs, citrus, cold brew and shrubs the drinks were unique, tasty and reasonably priced at around $7-$10 each.
So my advice...get out of the Old Port and head to Hardshore and its surroundings for an entirely new way to spend a Saturday in Maine! If you can’t make it to Portland but live on the east coast, be on the lookout in your local liquor store to treat yourself to a beautiful bottle of this goodness.