Base Camp at Hunt + Alpine
It was my first time in Portland, Maine.
It was my first time in Portland, Maine, and the first time my husband and I ventured out of state during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We love to travel, and so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to do so in these trying times.
On our first Saturday night in Portland, we wanted to go and sit and have cocktails outside at a bar. The difficult part about doing this in Portland isn’t finding a bar that has outdoor seating; it’s deciding which bar to choose — there are quite a bit.
As we walked around the city, we stumbled across a brightly lit storefront — there was a rainbow and Black Lives Matter flag proudly displayed, and a freshly constructed patio outside the store, complete with bistro lights. We could hear the tables of people laughing as they warmed themselves with both wine and the multiple heaters that had been set up along the patio.
We were sold — as I am a sucker for empathy and bistro lights.
The bar was called Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, and, during quarantine, they had come up with a new idea called Base Camp at Hunt + Alpine.
The schtick is that it’s camp — and there are camp rules, and there is camp food, and there are camp cocktails, too. Their goal is to create a space where both staff and guests feel safe and healthy, and happy amidst this health crisis, and they are doing a brilliant job at attaining that goal.
My husband and I appreciated the thoughtfulness of our waitress, who was always wearing her mask, and gave us some wonderful suggestions about which cocktails to order, and even where to go to brunch the next day!
To combat cross-contamination, and minimize the amount of touching glassware, and basically streamline things as much as possible during these crazy times, they’ve pre-made tiny bottles of cocktails, ready for you to pour into a glass. And I know you must be thinking that you get skimped on the amount of alcohol in the drinks, but I can assure you that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are the cocktails packaged in perfect little bottles, but they’re also as equally perfect in taste.
Throughout the evening, I couldn’t help but marvel at the amount of extra time it must taken to package the drinks, and build the patio, and get the heaters, and print new menus, and work in new rules for customers to adhere to while they came to Base Camp. The attention to detail was truly remarkable — a testament to the owners’ tenacity and the resiliency of the human spirit.
They could’ve just called it quits.
They could’ve just done what everyone else was doing, and slap some chairs out onto the sidewalk, and called it a day.
They could’ve become complacent, or angry, or bitter about the fact that times are hard for all businesses right now, especially the restaurant industry.
Instead, they chose to let their imaginations run wild and create something new. They chose to show up for their staff, and their customers, and the community in which they serve. They chose to make something special out of what is undoubtedly a terrible situation — and it is a beautiful sight to behold.
More info on the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club can be found here.