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Speakeasies, Maine Cheese and an Island Day Trip

Casco Bay at night

It seems that for every new restaurant that opens in Portland, an exciting new bar is emerging on the scene as well. Blyth & Burrows, at 26 Exchange Street, is no ordinary bar. Joshua Miranda has been involved in several notable cocktail lounges around town; however, this is the first project he’s created on his own and for that we’re grateful. The space is beautifully appointed with an eye to the War of 1812. Why that war you ask? As a port city, rich in maritime history, Miranda was familiar with the story of two captains who died in that war and are buried right here in Portland. He’s set his nautical theme, from menu to decor, based on their story. Cocktails are crafted for aesthetics as well as taste with carefully chosen light bites to pair. The bar set up is more like three bars in one, with multi-levels, and here comes the speakeasy part: one of bars is called The Broken Dram. You can enter this clandestine watering hole directly from an alley off of Fore street. Look for the single red light at the entrance and the Dram spray painted on the door, or there’s a prohibition-era clever door you’ll have to find before finally entering the Dram from inside Blyth and Burrows – both of these establishments are well-worth the visit for excellent cocktails and delicious small bites.

Joshua Miranda blyth and burrows

Owner Joshua Miranda in front of Blyth & Burrows on Exchange St.    photo courtesy of Blyth & Burrows, photo credit –  Bonnie Durham Photography

Looking ahead to the weekend, Farmstead Cheese is hosting a cheese lovers event you won’t want to miss Saturday, June 18. Head to Whitefield to meet the sheep and goats behind Fuzzy Udder Creamery’s delicious cheeses. Farmer and cheesemaker, Jessie Dowling will introduce her flock and offer a walk through of the cheesemaking process. Enjoy a cheese tasting and select some of your favorite Fuzzy Udder cheese to purchase and take home. This is one of Maine Farmland Trust‘s featured seasonal events.

fuzzy udder creamery

Can’t make it to Whitefield? You’ll find Fuzzy Udder Creamery cheeses at the Portland Food Co-Op on Congress St. photo by Maine Foodie Tours

Portland’s surrounding islands are not just beautiful to observe from afar. Consider taking an island day trip on the Casco Bay Ferry over to the most visitor friendly of the Calendar Islands, Peaks Island! After a less than 20 minute, inexpensive boat ride, you’ll arrive on a beautiful, quiet and easy to navigate island. Start with a cocktail or a craft beer at the Inn at Peaks Island; to the right and up the hill as you walk after disembarking. Next, treat yourself to a leisurely and delicious indoor/outdoor lunch at the family-owned Cockeyed Gull (to the left on the same road; map unnecessary). Enjoy a menu of fresh fare, assorted beers and spirits. Directly across from the Cockeyed Gull, you’ll find a bike rental shop. Make sure you’ve picked up some bottled waters and snacks at Hannigan’s Market, before you bike or walk this quaint island to check out Battery Steele, to collect sea glass on the beach, and visit the quirky Umbrella Cover Museum. You can easily spend hours here and trust me, you won’t want to leave. A few more facts about Peaks:

  • Peaks Island is the most populous island in Casco Bay, Maine. It is part of the city of Portland and is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) from downtown. The island became a popular summer destination in the late 19th century, when it was known as the Coney Island of Maine (Wikipedia).