Spring cocktails Seedling’s Light, Cherry Blossoms, Yellow Daisy and a Green Sprigs in the making at Noble Kitchen + Bar in Brunswick. Photo courtesy of Noble Kitchen + Bar

If there’s any doubt that full-on spring has finally made its way to our neck of the woods, the ever-evolving drinks menu at Noble Kitchen + Bar aims to settle the matter. Armed with fresh juices, an arsenal of top-shelf spirits and plenty of bartending bona fides, food and beverage director Russell Hewey is taking on and shaking up the flavors and textures of the season.

The handsome but cozy spot housed in The Brunswick Hotel, a stone’s throw from Bowdoin College’s leafy campus, is decked out in dark woods and leather seating. Hefty cone-shaped light fixtures loom above a smattering of high and low tables, and light pours into the bar area from the outdoor brick patio, where more tables and a fire pit await.

But while the patio enjoys plenty of warm-weather fans, the real action is at the bar, where Hewey pours his imaginative drinks. “Our menus are centered around the seasons,” said the former artist and dancer-turned-mixologist and sommelier. “It’s about what’s available and fresh right now.”

Case in point: his Cherry Blossoms ($16), a revamped martini meant to imitate the experience of walking through a cherry tree grove when it’s in full bloom. In it, he employs St. George Botanivore Gin, which skews more floral than juniper. He adds organic cherry juice, Dolin Dry Vermouth and lime, leaning on his past life as an artist to create the layered effect of petals. “The gin becomes opaque when you shake it,” he explained, “so you get an almost silvery top with red at the bottom to mimic the flower.”

Just as bright-flavored is the Green Sprigs ($15), a Margarita with citrus and basil that he muddles with green tea and lime before adding a hit of green chartreuse, the electric green French liqueur. Venus Pine Bitters and a basil-salt rim round everything out, and the effect is simultaneously refreshing and energizing.

By all measures, the menu’s flashy heavyweight (with a price tag to match) is the Hattan Bow Tie ($25), essentially a classic Manhattan gone aristocratic. Here, he goes in for big flavors and upscale labels – hence the cost. In the mix is Basil Hayden Kentucky Bourbon, a spice-laden Cocchi Barolo Chinato, Dashfire Orange Bitters and Pernod Absinthe Supérieure Spritz. It’s a serious hit of alcohol, so is best sipped slowly. But make no mistake, drinking it feels like an event. As Hewey put it in a later phone conversation: “It unfurls on the palate because of the quality of each ingredient.”


With those luscious notes of rhubarb and citrus, the drink is also an ideal partner to the fresh flavors in Executive Chef Meghan Fairman’s seasonal specials – like wild mushrooms, asparagus tips, peas, fiddleheads, dandelion greens and house-made preserved lemon, all over a slick of tangy Udder Creamery Chèvre. Spring on a plate, basically.

Plenty of thought has clearly been put into the lengthy wine list – a mashup of mostly European and American vineyards, with several lesser-knowns among them. Many are at reasonable price points, and a good number are organic and/or biodynamic. Refreshingly, there’s also an extensive half bottle list, so people can pair nicer quality wines with different dishes. The beer list, meanwhile, spotlights the hyperlocal, with on-draft ales from Flight Deck, Bissell Brothers and German-style lager from Trinken out of West Bath.

But judging by the number of luminous, gemlike cocktails lining the bar, it’s those that seem to get ordered the most – and that staff seem to have the most fun creating. “We experiment with new drinks all the time behind the bar,” said Hewey, adding that Cherry Blossoms took almost a month of testing to achieve the exact right balance of flavors. “I think play is important – that’s when you get your best ideas.”

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who lives in Maine.

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