East Ender - Portland Maine


On a recent trip to Maine I decided to stop for a meal in Portland, having heard great things about their food culture.  The restaurant had a long wait, so after putting my name on the list I figured I would explore some of the nearby shops and bars.  I must first say that Portlander’s take their food and drink seriously.

I wandered into an Italian market that made me wonder what all those things people had been hawking as Italian all my life actually were.  Eventually, I found my way into this little bar-restaurant called the East Ender and I bellied up to the bar for a quick drink.  I was pleasantly surprised by their selection of spirits, I was still figuring out just how seriously Portlander’s took their food and drink, and was quickly handed a menu by the bartender and asked if there was anything they could get me. 



After glancing over the menu briefly a friend of mine, who really doesn’t read most of the time, asks them if they can make a Moscow Mule, they respond with a resounding “yes, in fact it’s listed on the menu as a Mule and we add a splash of blood orange.”  Being a fan of the Mule he orders one leaving me to continue studying the menu, I finally settle on a Bow Legged Cowboy, bourbon, beer syrup, stout, Luxardo cherry. 


Then just as I take the first sip of my drink and begin the relish the many wonderful layers of flavors, we are informed by the rest of our party that our table is ready so my friend, who got his drink first takes his last sip and is out the door, leaving me to finish my drink.  Not being the type of person who rushes something as wonderful as an expertly crafted cocktail I make the decision to enjoy the rest of my drink and strike up a conversation with the bartender.  As we talk we swap stories of favorite drinks and recipes, I start to discover firsthand how large a role food and drink plays in the lives of Portlanders. 

Soon I finish my drink a reluctantly rejoin the rest of my party at the Duckfat to enjoy our very late lunch, which was also incredibly delicious.  At the end of our meal a few of my friends decide that they are going to order dessert and not being much of a sweets person I excuse myself to return to the East Ender for another drink, I mean I couldn’t simply just try one of their creations what if it was just a fluke that it happened to be so tasty.  I walked back in and decided this time to try the East Ender Sazerac, Famous Grouse Bourbon, Absinthe, honey, bitters, and lemon, I was not disappointed and decided without a doubt that it was no fluke, this establishment truly makes fine cocktails. 


Overall, the bar was small but cozy, with lots of individual seating areas perfect for a small gathering of friends.  The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, willing to make you something not on the menu if you asked for it.  I wandered in on a Friday around 3:30 so it was a pretty quiet but the bartender told me that she would be getting her happy hour crowd in soon.  On the list to try would be the brunch Bloody Marys with smoked tomato juice and the tea infused grapefruit Vodka. If you happen to be in the Portland area, this place is worth a visit, if you happen to be in the New England area this place is worth a visit. 

East Ender

47 Middle Street

Portland, ME