Located across from Cross Insurance Arena in the former Binga’s Stadium, Free Street Restaurant and Cocktail Bar – which opened right before Christmas – is one of my favorite new discoveries, and not just for before or after sporting events.

Erase all thoughts of what Binga’s was before you enter. While there are still plenty of large TV screens, the vibe is more après ski than sports bar. In other words, lots of taxidermy.

When I walked in, Hank Jr.’s “Family Tradition” was blasting, making this Texpat feel right at home. The place is huge, with a wide variety of seating options, and there’s also a spacious venue downstairs for live entertainment. Hand-painted murals adorn several of the walls. My drinking companion and I settled in at the long bar, which I am pleased to report has hooks underneath it, and took a look at the cocktail menu.

I immediately noticed the $10 Orange Lazarus, a nod to the popular “Field of Pete” episode from Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” in which it’s described as the “hedonistic nectar of greed and power. It’s too tempting, too delicious – too cold. You think you drink it – oh no – it drinks you!” I had no choice but to order it.

Free Street’s Orange Lazarus cocktail is a nod to Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete & Pete.”

It was cold. It was slushy. It was a chemical-looking version of orange. It was made using orange cream juice (don’t ask me what that is) and whipped cream vodka in a giant slushy machine, and I definitely felt like a kid in a ’70s TV game show while drinking it.

It was far too sweet for me to drink more than a few sips, though, so I stole my friend’s Old Fashioned and she ordered a margarita. Both drinks were great, and their garnish game was strong. In total, the cocktail menu has 10 or so cocktails ranging from $9-$12, but there’s also a full bar from which you can order pretty much whatever you’re in the mood for.


Several of the seven wines offered by the glass are much better quality than you often find in a casual place and range from $10-$12. There’s a long list of local beers on draft, most priced at $8. The food menu is standard pub-style food, include a $15 brisket sandwich called Willing to BRISKET All. Brisket and a pun?  Yes, please.

Co-owner and general manager Eli Shapiro happened to be on site, so as we were leaving, I asked him what else he’d like potential customers to know.

Free Street uses leftover orange peel to make orange bitters.

“Just because we have a lot of dead (expletive) on the walls doesn’t mean we don’t care about the world,” he said.

Free Street has teamed up with the Audubon Society, not only to showcase wildlife but also to contribute some of its proceeds to sustainable wildlife programs. The kitchen is also committed to sustainable practices, such as using leftover orange peel to make in-house orange bitters and dehydrating fruit scraps in an effort to waste nothing. On a fun note, Free Street also cuts its own ice in-house using directional freezing, resulting in hand-cut clear ice cubes in unusual shapes for cocktails.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Free Street. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

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

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