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The dining room and bar at The Optimist.

I normally don’t try new rum concoctions on Thursdays. Weeknights are made for exercise and either not drinking or drinking something that’s already familiar (and not drinking much of it). But, I already blew off my workout tonight to go with Mr. Savory Exposure to check out The Optimist (the photo above – isn’t it pretty?), which opened a week ago, so I might as well have some libations. They had two special rum cocktails which were calling out to me across the internet as I perused their menu earlier today. I had my drink order down pat upon arrival.

Before I jump right into the cocktail part, let’s talk about the food. It was good. All of it. We tried the garlicky tiny clams & pork belly and the mussels in a curry broth broth to start and both were great. I loved the pork belly with the clams but I think I liked the mussels more because the broth was really flavorful and refreshing. My entree was the soft shell crab (it’s in season so order it now!), which was wood roasted and hearty. The sides we tried were the mushrooms and beets and both were delicious. I had the doughnuts for dessert and they were good, too, but I ate so much that I risked being harpooned. Let’s get to the rum drinks!

Beach Shanty cocktail at The Optimist

The first drink I tried was the Beach Shanty (right), which is actually a beer and rum cocktail. The beer of choice is Allagash White (excellent) and it’s mixed with Brinley’s Shipwreck Spiced Rum (also excellent), ginger liqueur (excellent, too) and lemon. This was a very refreshing cocktail. It didn’t have a super rich rum flavor but was light and spritzy (in a good way). It reminded me of a less intense Dark & Stormy (in a good way). This was my first encounter with Brinley’s after reading awfully good things about it. I plan on procuring Brinley’s Shipwreck Spiced Rum for home consumption sometime next week. I’m also on the hunt for Brinley Gold Coconut Rum because it is apparently quite divine. I’m certain I can find a suitable libation in which it can be highlighted.

Port Antonio Cocktail at The Optimist

After enjoying a Beach Shanty, I moved on to the bolder and more robust Port Antonio Cocktail. Holy crap was this one good! It has a whole lot of ingredients happening in it including two kinds of rum: Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Flor de Cana 7 Year Gold Rum. Yum, yum, yum. It also featured Kahlua (although it was not at all a coffee drink or a dessert drink), “housemade velvet falernum” (a special kind of sweet syrup full of wonderful spices and such), cinnamon and crushed ice (LOVE). This drink tasted like rum (in a really good way). It was a showcase for the rum as the other ingredients just seemed to enhance the delicious rum flavors. This was like a proper (non-fruity) rum punch but more sophisticated, except that it came with an umbrella. It was wonderful. I want another one right now.

The bar at The Optimist seems like a nice place to hang out and there were quite a few people who seemed to have this figured out after only a week. Additionally, there is an oyster bar attached to the main restaurant and it looks a lot like an upscale beach bar (which is still, by definition, casual). I can see myself hanging out at either bar sipping one of their delicious rum drinks or trying one of the punches that are available on the oyster bar menu. I’ll probably keep a little closer to home this weekend but I should still have another rum report come Monday. Happy ‘tails!

The bar at The Optimist. Look at all that wonderful rum!