Batson River’s Harvey Milk Punch is a play on the San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Batson River Brewing & Distilling

Several Portland cocktail purveyors are recognizing Pride month with special concoctions that don’t just toast the LGBTQ community but contribute to their cause in the form of donations from proceeds of drink sales to civil rights nonprofits.

The most creative name I came across among these drinks was Batson River’s Harvey Milk Punch, a combination of Batson River Riparian Gin, sloe gin, blood orange liqueur, an Italian aromatized wine called Cocchi Rosa, honey syrup, grapefruit juice, rosewater and Peychaud’s Bitters.

Based off a cocktail called the San Francisco, which is a sloe gin-based perfect Manhattan, it uses blood orange and grapefruit to highlight the bittersweet nature of the life and contributions of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city whose assassination became a rallying cry for the visibility of violence against the LGBTQ community. From each $14 Harvey Milk Punch sold, $1 goes to EqualityMaine. Batson River, which has a location in Kennebunk and others opening soon in Wells and Biddeford, will also donate $1 to EqualityMaine every time you add glitter to a drink.

At Cocktail Mary, you’ll find the $15 Kitty Purry. Owner Isaac MacDougal said, “As we are a queer bar, all of our cocktails are Pride-themed, but we think that this light crushable spritz is perfect for the long early summer days of Pride month, so you can keep sipping all day long.”

To make it yourself, combine 1 ounce Aperol, 3/4 ounce Combier Pamplemousse, 1 ounce orange juice and 3/4 ounce lemon juice. Shake, strain into an ice-filled wine glass and top with sparkling wine or sparkling water.

The Angelo Azzurro from Via Vecchia. Photo courtesy of @artisanagenda

Via Vecchia’s Pride cocktail special, the Angelo Azzurro, is a riff on a cocktail that was popular in the gay discotheques of Italy in the ’80s and ’90s. Via Vecchia’s version consists of gin, vodka, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, Maraschino, Champagne Blue Curaçao, and dandelion oleo. A dollar from each $13 Angelo Azzurro sold goes to EqualityMaine.

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Chaval is also donating $1 from each of its Pride cocktail sales to EqualityMaine. The Fuzzy Banana, created by bar manager Asher Boisvert, uses banana cognac (how did I not know such a thing existed?), Liquid Riot Old Port Oat Whiskey, Three of Strong Spirits Brightwater Rum, apricot brandy, coconut and lime.

Speaking of Three of Strong Spirits, the Portland distillery is donating $2 to Portland Outright from each sale of its $12 Color of Love, made with its own Portage Gin, a house-made lavender simple syrup, hibiscus tea, lemon juice and Vena’s Fizz House Flower Bitters (chamomile and jasmine).

Liquid Riot’s Liquid Pride double IPA. Photo courtesy of Liquid Riot

Liquid Riot has both a Pride cocktail and a Pride beer. The $16 Love Wins blends its Old Port Oat Whiskey with Combier Grapefruit, Cocchi Rosa, strawberry, lemon and Owl & Whale eucalyptus bitters. Brewed in collaboration with Queers + Beers, its Liquid Pride double IPA (7.8 percent ABV) is made with 100 percent Maine malt and available both on draft and in cans. Liquid Riot is donating $1 to EqualityMaine for every four-pack of Liquid Pride, Liquid Pride T-Shirt and Liquid Pride Sticker sold from its retail shop.

While I’m on the subject of beer, Crispy Gai is selling a $7 beer called Onward and Upward (4.5 percent ABV), a lime Kölsch released in honor of Pride. Cole Mangano from Mast Landing’s Westbrook tasting room spearheaded the creation of the beer, from the recipe to the colorful can design to the charity it’s supporting – the Human Rights Campaign.

Let’s finish things off with a party! Baharat is hosting one on June 20 from 6-10 p.m., open to everyone over 21 with a vaccine card. Think ’70s disco vibes, great drinks, edible glitter and snacks, all run and organized by queer women. Baharat is also donating $1 off every sale of its house fries this month to MaineTransNet.

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


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