Broken Arrow has an upscale cabin vibe, including at its bar. Photo by Angie Bryan

The name of newish Congress Street restaurant Broken Arrow is a nod to the challenges hunters face at the start of the arduous process of getting food onto customers’ plates and speaks to the owners’ philosophy about wasting as few ingredients as possible, including in making cocktails.

To help with that, Lyle and Holly Akers hired the three men behind Trash Bird Bar Company (Josh Lemay, the new bar manager at Baharat; Harper Fendler, the beverage director at Broken Arrow; and Sean Connerty, all three of whom met while working at The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club) to design and execute the cocktail program.

To test it out, my drinking companion and I got settled on the comfortable wooden barstools, with backs and footrests. Broken Arrow has a bit of an upscale cabin vibe, with a beautiful wooden bar counter, banquette seating along a brick wall, and the occasional fish or game animal mounted on the wall.

One of the best examples of how the self-described “cocktail nerds” at sustainability-focused bar consultancy Trash Bird operate is the $13 Gulls of Detritus. With the exception of the tequila, the key ingredients come from unused components in the kitchen that otherwise would have been discarded.

The marmalade comes from oranges that had been cut up to use as garnishes, the egg whites are left over from recipes that used only the yolks, and the citrus shrub is made using leftover citrus hulls which are boiled and reduced to a juice, as well as unused wine, which is made into vinegar. The vinegar is also used by the kitchen. This back-and-forth usage of ingredients makes it easy to pair cocktails with Broken Arrow’s food menu items because so many of the base flavors and ingredients overlap.

In addition to being creative, the cocktail was delicious, as was the $12 Turn Off the Lights: Amontillado sherry, oleo-saccharum (an ingredient that involves extracting oils from citrus peels by using sugar), citrus stock and egg white.

A mocktail and low ABV cocktail whipped up on the spot by the bartender at Broken Arrow. Photo by Katie Rooks

We enjoyed our drinks so much that we wanted to try more, but I had a boxing lesson the next morning and knew better (don’t ask me how) not to try to box after two cocktails, so Lemay, who happened to be behind the bar during our visit, offered to make me a mocktail. His $5 combination of strawberry-fennel syrup, citrus stock, orange bitters, grapefruit bitters and tonic water was the rare kind of mocktail that didn’t make me think it would taste better if only it had alcohol in it. It was perfect as is.

For my friend’s second round, Lemay whipped up a low-ABV cocktail, a $13 mixture of elderflower liqueur, Lillet, oleo-saccharum, orange bitters, grapefruit bitters and citrus stock. Low-ABV cocktails are a staple at Broken Arrow, especially when doing cocktail pairings with the chef’s choice tasting menu, so that patrons can enjoy multiple drinks without multiple repercussions.

Before opening Broken Arrow over Halloween weekend, the Akers had been in Chicago, where Lyle had owned a few bars and restaurants. He had long dreamed of moving to Maine, where he had spent many summers on Sebago Lake with his cousins.

Aker said he was looking forward to his first tourist season in Maine and that he is planning to expand Broken Arrow’s offerings, including adding more cocktails. Count me in.

Retired diplomat Angie Bryan writes about Maine’s cocktail bars while making as many puns as her editor allows.


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