Quick, grab a seat! The barstools at City Farmhouse tend to fill up, even on Tuesdays. Photos by Angie Bryan

When the Portland Marriott (actually located in South Portland) rebranded as the Portland Sheraton, the management completely revamped the entire bar and restaurant area. Previously a surprisingly good hotel bar called Fire & Water, it’s now City Farmhouse, a destination bar and restaurant with one of the best cocktail menus I’ve ever seen.

As the name implies, the menu is modern farm fare, and the cozy décor is designed to mimic the connected farmsteads of South Portland, with five social and dining spaces throughout the restaurant. As always, my drinking companion and I headed straight for the bar, but there wasn’t a vacant seat (let alone two) at the bar – or at any of the regular tables anywhere in the bar or restaurant. And it was a Tuesday! Clearly, word had already spread before we got there.

No need to worry about being ignored by opting for the patio.

We did find seating at the chef’s counter, a funky ledge where guests can watch the pizza chefs at work, but the barstools were angled in an odd way that pitched forward and caused us to keep sliding off, so we decided to move. Undeterred, we headed outside to the spacious patio area, complete with fire pit. We settled into the very comfortable chairs and were pleased to discover that being outside away from the hustle and bustle of the bar area in no way reduced the excellent service – at no point during our evening did we ever have to actively work to get the attention of a server.

City Farmhouse’s self-proclaimed mission is to meld “rustic charm with city glitz,” and it does a great job, beginning with the mouth-watering descriptions on the menus. I was (as usual) focused on the cocktail menu, which was at least three pages long.  Divided into sections such as “farm-to-shaker,” “moonshine,” “farmhand favorites,” “farmhouse craft cocktails,” and “back forty sippers,” the menu had something for everyone, including two specialty mocktails. Most of the drinks were $10-$11.

The speciality cocktail menu at City Farmhouse is three pages long.

It was really hard to narrow down our choices, but in the end, my drinking companion went for the $11 Gin ‘N Jam (Vermont Barr honey distilled gin, Caledonia Spirits honey, fresh-squeezed lemon, agave nectar and strawberry rhubarb jam). The tartness of the rhubarb did a great job of cutting the sweetness of the honey, with the end result reminding us of an adult lemonade.

I chose the $12 blueberry jam mojito (Stoli blueberry vodka, blueberry jam, fresh-squeezed lime, a splash of bubbles and a sprig of fresh mint). It was absolutely delicious – simultaneously sweet and a little tart, with a tremendous flavor explosion in each sip. It was not, however, what I would consider a mojito; it contained vodka instead of rum and no muddled mint, just a sprig for garnish. Someone who was intent on having a mojito would probably have been disappointed, but my goal was simply to have a delicious and original cocktail: Mission accomplished.

Other drinks I wish we could have tried include the Rosemary Salty Dog martini, the blueberry tarragon martini, the Passing Thyme (gin, yellow chartreuse, fresh-squeezed lemon, fresh thyme, agave nectar, orange bitters and a lemon twist), the cucumber-rosemary Collins, and a carrot-based one called Local Roots. I’m gonna need a bigger liver.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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