Amateur Hour

Getting Out of Dodge

It was my birthday weekend, which means we do whatever I want. I never got to celebrate my birthday as a kid, growing up Jehovah’s Witness, so as an adult heathen I take my birthdays very seriously. However, we had no set plans, just an idea: We would drive towards Rangeley, stopping at garage sales along the way, then camp in the woods with a tent and enjoy all the booze and other legal substances we managed to pack, while relaxing around an open fire.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses happened to be in Portland for their yearly convention. I asked Michael to choose a kick-ass song to blast as we went by the civic center, where many were gathered out front for lunch. He chose what sounded like a Beach Boys song with the word “naked” in it. Not quite the impact I was looking for, but off we went.

After considering the possibility of rain, we decided to forgo the tent thing and rent a cabin. Maybe one would be available in Belgrade?

We took Route 27, and in Belgrade we stopped at Hello Good Pie, a cute cafe, and purchased a strawberry rhubarb pie, the first of the season. We also stopped at a house by the roadside with a big shed because it had a sign that said “rocks.” I like rocks and Michael likes to smash things. There were no signs of life, but inside the shed there were piles of rocks on shelves, in cases, on chairs, and on antiques that looked like they’d been the inventory of an antiques shop before the switch to rocks and gems.

On our way out, we paused to call some places to inquire about the availability of cabins or rooms. That’s when Pettitt, of Pettitt’s Picks, came out to greet us. He had a prospector look, complete with the long beard, and trailing behind him were a thousand hungry black flies. “I have more interesting stuff in the house,” he said.

“No thanks, we have to go, but thank you for letting us look at your rocks!” we shouted as we pulled away. “We didn’t steal any!” I’m sure I missed out on some finds inside Pettitt’s home.

Thankfully we found a room available at the last minute, in an old and beautiful bed and breakfast called The Wings Hill Inn. The room was cute, clean, and had no TV, which was quite nice, actually.

Down the street in Belgrade Lakes, the sidewalks were under construction, but that didn’t spoil the picturesque charm of this lovely town. The Village Inn and Restaurant was flooded with Colby and UMaine Farmington graduates and their families, so we made reservations for 8:30. While their “loaded nachos,” chips topped with candied bacon and ricotta and other cheese, were amazing, my goal was to eat something with lobster. I skipped over the lobster mashed potatoes, a dish the restaurant is renowned for, and went with lobster ravioli instead. It was OK, but I think I made a big mistake. Don’t be like me — get the lobster mashed potatoes. I ended the meal with the Village Inn Raspberry Cosmo. While delicious, it left me feeling it could be a bit more Mainer. This is where my recipe comes in.

Driving back, I still felt unsatisfied about the lobster. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. So we bought four lobsters to grill (cut them down the middle and cook them over a fire, brushing butter on them and flipping them once in a while). Another beautiful Maine weekend was coming to a close. All I needed was my Maine cocktail.

This one is made with Split Rock Distilling’s blueberry vodka. Located in Newcastle, Split Rock steeps hand-raked wild blueberries in the clear, clean flavors of their grain-to-glass spirits to naturally sweeten each sip. Split Rock recently purchased Royal Rose Organic Syrups, and we used their blueberry syrup to round out this mostly Maine-made Cosmo. Cheers!

photo/Jessie Lacey

Bub, Do You Even Mainer? Cosmo

1 oz Split Rock blueberry vodka
0.5 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1 oz Royal Rose blueberry syrup
1.5 oz peach purée
Dash of peach bitter

Place all ingredients in a shaker and shake to your heart’s desire.

Jessie lives in the heart of downtown Portland with her border collie Josie, making cocktails and trouble.