New drinks on the block

bearded man

Meiklejohn upstairs at his new Jewel Box

The gentrification of Congress Street lurches forward with the opening of The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box this June.

Mixologist around town Nathaniel Meiklejohn is renting and rehabbing the former Meg Perry Center into a focused emporium of spirits. He gets the nod for most creative name of the year. Time will tell if his drinks live up to the theatrics. The Maine native has the chops.

“I’ve bartended on Congress Street for eight years and noticed that people always drink the same thing,” said the former Local 188 and Pocket Brunch cocktail slinger, who threw underground beverage bashes in his Portland pad. “This is for those who want more focus and intention in their drinks.”

Don’t come here expecting a Christmas cosmo or dirty sidecar.

“The whole vision is to introduce people to new things,” said the bearded lady himself who has a thing for brooches and shiny baubles when in uniform.

For the jaded drinker, who has been there, sipped that, there will be themes.

Take monk night for instance. Meiklejohn will coordinate music (Thelonious) with monk-made liquor like Bénédictine and chartreuse.

These herbal elixirs developed in 17th and 19th century France make prohibition cocktails sound quaint.

Like a chef-driven restaurant, The Jewel Box’s drink list will shift with the muse. There won’t be a theme every week, he said, but like a flash sale, special tinctures and absinthe will make cameos.

Advanced warning: Eat ahead of time. The Jewel Box is no lunchbox, just booze party people.

In a very unPortland move, beer fans are pushed aside, but not entirely. There is one (count it) tap that will rotate among local brewers. Nothing wrong with that.

Maybe there will be a drink called the Meg Perry to honor the community center that served the hood for years and recently resurfaced on Market Street. Cheers!







Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.