Tuesday, May 21, 2013
By EMMA BOUTHILLETTE
The Freeport outlets are busy this time of year with tourists and back-to-school shoppers trying to find good deals. While there are plenty of benches to plop down on and take a break from all that shopping, none of those benches comes with air conditioning or a good cocktail.
Jameson Tavern Taproom features a good selection of beers, plus many cocktails mixed with Maine-made Cold River Vodka.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
JAMESON TAVERN TAPROOM
WHERE: 115 Main St., Freeport
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; until 10 p.m. on Saturdays
PARKING: On-street metered parking that's free after 6 p.m. and on Sundays
AMENITIES: A couple of televisions and two decks for outdoor seating
HAPPY HOUR: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with varying drink and food specials
SCENE: A small, casual taproom to complement the tavern's main dining room. The bar attracts locals and tourists.
Proof that there is life farther down Main Street from L.L. Bean, the Jameson Tavern Taproom was busy even on a recent midafternoon. A complement to the Jameson Tavern's dining room, the taproom is to the left when you enter, and is a cozy spot. They won't judge you if you sidle up to the bar and drop your 20-some-odd shopping bags, ready to take a break.
The bar's drink menu features many cocktails mixed with Maine-made Cold River Vodka. A number of drinks play on some literary and Maine themes. There's Casco Bay Blue Lemonade and the Freeport ShrimpWreck Bloody Mary. On the list of martinis, you can find One Morning in Maine (in homage to Maine author and illustrator Robert McCloskey), a mix of Cold River Blueberry Vodka and Butterscotch Schnapps.
I was tempted to be adventurous and try this concoction, but one of their "Jameson Favorites" on the next page won out. I picked the Flying Point Firefly, which featured my favorite Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka mixed with unsweetened ice tea. It was served in a pint glass for $7.50.
As I started to sip my drink, several signs hanging behind and above the bar amused me. One said, "I don't wear glasses, I empty them." Another read, "I'm not bossy, I just have better ideas." And of course, it goes without saying, but, "Sarcasm: Just one more service we offer here."
A couple of televisions in the taproom were tuned in to sports stations, so maybe if the ladies want to continue to shop, it would be a good spot to keep your husbands entertained.
Although the taproom is separate from the dining room, the bartender will still help diners pick out a drink. One diner came in asking for a dark beer that was not too sweet, not too hoppy. The bartender kindly picked out three beers and gave her a taste of each in shot glasses.
Once the diner picked the one she liked best, the bartender filled a pint for her, and had the server add it to her dining bill. It's always great when you can try before you buy, because a pint is a pretty big commitment if it's a beer you don't like.
The Jameson Tavern is a prominent old white building perched on a hill on Main Street, and dates to 1779. On the tavern's website, I found a write-up about the history and some ghosts supposedly seen on the premises.
This explains Emily's Ghost, a drink on the menu made with Cold River Vodka, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and a hint of cream served frozen. This milkshake-sounding drink was named for a child who once lived in the building in the early 19th century.
Staffers say they have seen Emily's ghost running between rooms upstairs. After an experience like that, you might need a strong drink.
So if the drinks at the Jameson Tavern Taproom aren't enough motivation, maybe you can go and spot yourself a ghost.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.