This winter, while the Hunt & Alpine Club was throwing their private "Hush, Hush" cocktail parties, I said to Professor A., I don't get jealous of others' foodie pursuits often, but watching local bloggers detail their fabulous cocktails and samplings from local chefs was making me positively green.
So you can imagine my excitement when I received an invite to the Royal Rose Simple Syrup one year anniversary party, with cocktails from Hunt & Alpine Club and food by Blue Rooster Food Co.
Royal Rose simple syrups are made in Biddeford by a couple that moved up here from Brooklyn and who have an appreciation for craft cocktails. They use all organic ingredients, and their line includes intriguing flavors like strawberry fennel, lavender lemon, and tamarind.
The party was held in a private apartment in the Biddeford North Dam Mill building, which is an old paper mill building renovated to house apartments, condos, and retail and industrial spaces. The mill buildings are home to Rabelais Books, Vervacious, and Inspired Wire Studio.
Cocktails were mixed up by a bartender from the Hunt & Alpine Club, a much-anticipated craft cocktail bar opening at 75 Market Street in Portland's Old Port. Here, bartender Kit is measuring some juice for my favorite cocktail of the night, a rum swizzle made with dark rum, snap, fresh pineapple and lemon juices, tamarind and cardamom clove syrups, and angostura bitters.
Other cocktails included The Weekender, a vodka, aperol, lemon, grapefruit juice with the saffron syrup that was bitter, but sweet and spicy, as well as Summer Haven, a sort of French 75 with gin, lillet blanc, lemon juice, prosecco and the lavender lemon syrup. Very easy drinking.
Food from Blue Rooster Food Co. served by the friendly proprietors was delicious as always. I particularly enjoyed the moroccan-spiced hummus, the tomato, black olive, ricotta, sea salt crostini and their bite-sized bahn mi sandwiches, made with country pate slices on toasted focaccia. I also stole away with a beautiful, light-as-air sugar cookie.
In Portland, Royal Rose simple syrups are available at the new cocktail and soda shop Vena's Fizz House on Fore St. Check them out for a fun, locally made addition to your cocktail repertoire or to mix into some seltzer water for a homemade Italian soda.
Bonus best statement of the night, where conversation frequently turned into a Biddeford love fest (yes, you read that right): "Biddeford is to Portland as Brooklyn is to Manhattan."