50 Shots of America–Maine

Bitter Berry

Have a drink with Louie the Lobster (a leftover party favor from my 30th birthday party where he and his buddies were Crawfish Impersonators--it was a Bayou-themed party)

The Pine Tree State became the 23rd state of the Union on March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise in order to balance the number of slave and free states. Before that, Maine was part of Massachusetts.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was a native of Maine and wrote one of my favorite poems ever (and I’m not much for poetry)

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light!

It described me well, then, when I first read it in high school and still fits pretty well. Anyone who “likes to stay busy,” sometimes to the point of exhaustion, can probably relate.

She isn’t, of course, the only poet or author or “somebody” to live in or be from Maine, (the list is long and includes Stephen King, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Andrew Wyeth, Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Dempsey, and a whole bunch of folks whose names I don’t recognize but probably should) but she’s probably my favorite so far.

Bitter Berry

3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Blueberry-infused Vanilla Vodka*
1 drop Angostura Bitters

*Soak a heaping tablespoon of dried blueberries in 4 oz Vanilla Vodka for a minimum of 2 hours. Muddling some of the berries increases the finished flavor.

Combine over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cordial glass and garnish with three of the plumped blueberries on a toothpick.

I normally don’t go for garnishes on these little drinks but the blueberries are significant as well as the toothpick itself: Maine is the main exporter of both blueberries and toothpicks, producing 20 million of the latter each day at the Strong Wood Products in Strong, Maine.

And don’t be fooled by the name–this drink isn’t actually bitter. Tart, yes, with a strong flavor from the gin, alone, but Bitters tend to enhance and warm the flavor of a drink. Plus, there’s a common ingredient between Angostura Bitters and the state beverage, Moxie: gentian root. I would have named the drink Wild Moxie but the company sued a neighboring state’s soda company for infringement for having the name Modox–I’m just not going to go there!

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