When I first heard about Maine Distilleries earlier this year, I was mostly interested in their source for potatoes. Unusual, yes, but I noticed that they used potatoes from Fryeburg, the pretty, quiet town next to where my family owns a cottage in Western Maine. Anytime I see any of these little-known towns mentioned in the mainstream media, my ears perk up. People just don’t really talk about Fryeburg that often, unless it’s in reference to their famous fair held each October. It’s the same for much of the lakes region, which is typically eclipsed by Maine’s rocky coast and quaint towns down east. So as you can imagine, when I realized that the primary ingredient of this vodka came from the same potato fields that were along my favorite bike route, I knew I had to get my hands on a bottle.
I hatched a plan to visit the Freeport headquarters of Maine Distilleries on the way back from my trip to Mid-Coast Maine (even I can’t resist the call of the Maine coast from time to time). While I was eating and drinking my way through Camden, Rockport and Rockland, I noticed that every hip spot I visited carried and centrally featured Cold River Vodka and Gin. For research purposes, I ordered a Cold River Gin martini at Shepherd’s Pie in Rockport, and immediately fell in love. It was the cleanest, smoothest gin I have ever tasted.
By the time we finally arrived at Maine Distilleries, I had already decided to buy both the vodka and the gin. Now, we aren’t big drinkers of hard alcohol and cocktails in this household: we’re more of a beer and wine crowd here. After tasting (and liking) the three spirits offered at the distillery–original vodka, blueberry vodka and gin– I regulated myself to only buying two out of the three. As I left with the vodka and the gin, I promised myself that I would use half of the vodka to try my hand at making my own blueberry version. After all, as I have made clear here in the past, I have a bit of a thing for Maine blueberries.
After our whirlwind coastal tour, I set out to make my own blueberry vodka. Adding two cups of blueberries to two cups of vodka (made from potatoes harvested only miles away – too cool), I stood back to view the pretty purple and blue jar. But now what? I knew I needed an expert’s opinion, and luckily, I knew just the girl. A week later, I brought my mason jar full of vodka and blueberries straight to Maggie’s place, and requested a lesson in cocktail-making. I had a vague notion that I wanted to include lemonade, and brought along a bottle of a sparkling variety. Maggie quickly suggested that we add some white wine (Sauvignon Blanc in this case), and then plucked a bit of mint from her windowsill garden. Next we added ice cubes, thin slices of lemon, and a spoonful of the boozy blueberries from the vodka jar.
The drink was heavenly and tasted of pure summer in a glass. As a cocktail novice, it was easy enough for me to put together on my own and used simple ingredients that I would regularly have on hand. While we made ours glass by glass, this is one recipe that could be easily multiplied and served by the pitcher. If you were into that kind of thing, which I am…
To make the homemade blueberry vodka: measure two cups blueberries. Mash about half of them, and then add to two cups of vodka. Secure the mix in an airtight container (such as a mason jar) and put aside for at least a week, unrefrigerated.
Blueberry “White Sangria”
- 1 part homemade blueberry vodka
- 1 part lemonade (we used sparkling, which was nice)
- 1 part white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- sprig of mint
- lemon slices
- ice cubes
Stir all ingredients together and enjoy!
All photos by Shelby Larsson.
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