From Field to Glass: Exploring the Journey of Maine Wild Blueberries in Craft Cocktails
Wild blueberries are known for their incredibly delicious flavor, making them the perfect addition to any dish or drink. Hayley Wilson, mixologist and the Events Coordinator at the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club located in Portland, Maine, has been using Maine’s iconic berry in her handcrafted cocktails for years. We sat down with Hayley to ask her how she harnesses the powerful flavor of Maine’s berry to create incredible cocktails and mocktails for her guests.
Meet Hayley Wilson, Portland-based Bartender
With a background that spans over a decade in the hospitality industry, Hayley joined Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in 2019, where she’s flourished for the past five years. Inspired by her deep connection to music and her love for community, she believes that cocktails should reflect the atmosphere they are enjoyed in. Her innovative style and commitment to using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients have earned her and the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club a special place in the hearts of Portlanders and beyond. Mashed recently named Portland Hunt + Alpine to its list of 25 Best Cocktail Bars in the US.
One ingredient Hayley adores is Maine’s wild blueberries because they bring a bold, sweet and tangy flavor that adds a perfect punch to her cocktails. Their vibrant purple hue also adds an aesthetic appeal to drinks. With wild blueberries, Hayley can carefully control the drink’s sugar content, utilizing the berries as a citrus substitute. They shine through, allowing for a unique and unforgettable drinking experience.
To give you a taste, we worked with Hayley to craft four vibrant wild blueberry-based cocktail and mocktail drinks that can easily be replicated at home.
The Taste of Maine Wild Blueberry Mocktails & Cocktails
Wild Blueberry Mocktails
Wild Blueberry Zinger
Taste the tantalizing combination of tangy lime, sweet wild blueberry syrup, and warming ginger with this Wild Blueberry Zinger mocktail. This drink is the perfect choice for a refreshing and invigorating beverage, whether you’re out in the hot sun or chilling in the cool AC. Enjoy this delightful creation and savor the vibrant flavors with every sip!
Indulge in the tropical flavors of the Tropical Smash mocktail, a citrus style sipper that’s as refreshing as it is delightful. This drink is sparkling with bubbly goodness, and makes you want to sit back, relax, and savor the flavorful blend of pineapple, lemon, and wild blueberries.
Wild Blueberry Cocktails
The perfect blend of wild blueberry sweetness, peach complexity, and a hint of salt, the Maine Royale has a delightful punch to it. Whether you’re hosting a special gathering or seeking a moment of indulgence, this cocktail is sure to impress. For convenience, the Maine Royale cocktail can be easily prepared for a crowd or enjoyed on the go. Simply grab a 4-pack of sparkling wine cans and assemble the recipe directly in the can if you prefer.
Wild Blueberry Smash
This robust Wild Blueberry Smash cocktail combines the richness of bourbon with the vibrant flavors of fresh lemon, wild blueberries and mint. It’s a perfect choice for cocktail enthusiasts who appreciate a balance of bold flavors.
Hayley’s pro tip for crafting these delightful concoctions—never walk away from the stove while making the wild blueberry syrup—she once found herself with a thick blueberry jam. Make sure to trust your gut and taste test as you go!
Visit Portland Hunt + Alpine Club
At the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, the brainchild of founders, Andrew and Briana Volk, is deeply intertwined with the city itself. As one of the first craft cocktail bars in Portland, they have significantly contributed to shaping the city’s renowned food and beverage landscape. Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, the duo is revising their cocktail menu monthly to bring back beloved classics that have delighted customers over the years.
Andrew and Briana’s dedication to using local ingredients mirrors the abundance of fresh produce found in Maine. Their commitment to quality and creativity has garnered national recognition, with the establishment being a two-time James Beard award semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program.
If you ever find yourself in Portland, ME, a visit to the Hunt + Alpine Club is a must. The establishment will also be participating in Wild Blueberry Weekend on August 5th & 6th, and will be sharing one of these crafty recipes on their menu in honor of the occasion. Make sure to stop by and immerse yourself in the creative world of Hayley’s cocktails, where the vibrant flavors of wild blueberries intertwine with the city’s rich culinary heritage. Celebrate a decade of craftsmanship and innovation at this iconic establishment, where every sip tells a story and every cocktail is a masterpiece. Cheers!