Pieces on Briana, her book Northern Hospitality, and her restaurants the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club and Little Giant.
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“Some people look down on the drink, but putting on our bar-owner hats, it’s actually well-balanced,” says Brianna Volk, co-owner of Little Giant in Portland, Maine, which has a Kalimoxto on its menu made with Moxie, a gentian-flavored soda. “The tannins in the wine balance out the too-sweet Coca-Cola. It just makes a refreshing and incredibly accessible cocktail.”
Plus, she continues, “It’s just a fun, but kind of weird drink. It makes us want to eat lots of seafood or grill steaks for a picnic. We know when we start making them, we are going to have a great night.”
“This blend of Moscato and Arneis is bright, crushable and really fun—a great summer wine,” says Briana. “Lobster rolls are great picnic food, and this is a great picnic wine with enough acidity to stand up to the mayo and rich lobster meat.”
If you’re looking for a well-made drink, here’s a good place to start. Transplants from the other Portland, proprietors Andrew and Briana Volk were instrumental in bringing the craft-cocktail movement to town. Portland Hunt + Alpine Club remakes the appletini with vodka, rum, and apple cordial; it’s now something you’d actually like to drink. You’ll find classics well rendered (like the House Old Fashioned), and inventions that feel like classics (the Last Word-ish Green Eyes, made with gin, lime, chartreuse, and egg white). And when you get peckish, the menu features Scandinavian specialties like gravlax, meatballs in nutmeg cream sauce, and a smorgasbord of meat, cheese, and fish. (Briana Volk is of Finnish descent.)
"The bread service at Sanaa in Animal Kingdom Lodge's Kidani Village is a must-do for anyone looking for a memorable Disney food experience," said It comes with five different types of naan and nine different accompaniments, making it the perfect starter for a group or dinner by itself," said Briana Volk, who owns Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, Little Giant, and Giant in Portland, Maine and wrote Northern Hospitality, and travels to Disney World several times per year.
Volk tells The Takeout popcorn has been on the menu since day one and won’t likely ever be taken off. Their version uses butter, parmesan cheese, plus green chile powder they get shipped from New Mexico. One of the keys is nailing down the ratio of butter to popcorn: They make theirs with 1/4 cup of kernels, which yields roughly eight cups of popped corn, or enough for four people. For that quantity, they’ll use six tablespoons of butter or 3/4 of a stick.
The Volks also teach their staff bystander intervention, provide an outside contact to file complaints, and train other local restaurateurs through Heart of Hospitality, a program they started with a $25,000 grant from the state of Maine.
Briana added: “The more it’s talked about, the more it normalizes the conversation and makes people comfortable. It’s a discussion everyone should be having.”
Similarly, Briana and Andrew Volk are looking to overhaul the little grocery that’s attached to their restaurant, Little Giant, in the other Portland (Maine). They’ve launched a series of monthly wine nights, called Hush Hush, a beta version of the wine bar they’re hoping to realize later this year. Each night has a theme: funky wines and caviar and yes, you guessed it, tinned fish; magnums and pasta; West Coast white wines and Chinese food.
“We’re doing them to see if this sort of concept has some legs to become more permanent,” says Briana. But it’s also about taking the opportunity to share what they love in a relatively low-risk fashion and quite simply, she says, “Andrew and I just think it’s fun.”
It's time to break out the brandy and martini glasses. I asked a group of top mixologists and spirits writers what they're looking forward to drinking more of in 2019…
In 2019, I would like to drink more Cognac, both alone and in cocktails. I find myself drinking cocktails with fewer ingredients, so the base spirit can really shine. I want Cognac to shine this year, especially during meals cooked at home.
This brunch menu comes to us from Briana and Andrew Volk's new cookbook, Northern Hospitality with The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club: A Celebration of Cocktails, Cooking, and Coming Together. The husband-and-wife duo own two wildly popular spots in Portland, Maine (Portland Hunt + Alpine Club and Little Giant), and the pages of Northern Hospitality are filled with the same innovative cocktails and irresistible small bites you'll find in their restaurants.
“People can tell when they go to a party and the hosts aren’t having any fun because they’re in way over their heads,” says Briana Volk, who, along with her husband Andrew, has helped transform Portland, Maine into a culinary destination. The couple first met in the “other” Portland (the one in Oregon), and then moved back east to open Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in 2013 and the restaurant Little Giant in 2017. They’ve just released their first book, Northern Hospitality, a tribute to their home in Maine as well as Briana’s Scandinavian heritage. Here are their tips for making your New Year’s Eve cocktail party, or any other cocktail party, a success.
The Volks are sharing a secret with their readers: a taste of Northern comfort that can only be found in a place like Maine. With cocktails like “In the Pines” (gin, Cynar, and stone pine liqueur) and the “Norseman” (a Scandinavian take on the old-fashioned, with aquavit) and recipes for dishes like Smoked Trout with Deviled Eggs and Swedish Meatballs with Spaetzle and Nutmeg Cream, this cookbook sets itself apart with its unique Nordic approach and a full-on embrace of winter/fall nights with accents of spring/summer. This isn’t just a great gift for Maine lovers, but anyone who likes to be the first to take on new cocktails and who can spot (and appreciate) a new trend before anyone else.
“I can pick out at least four potential classics, each from a different bar: the Aviary Cocktail Book from the bars of that name in Chicago and now New York; Cocktail Codex and Mixology & Mayhem from Death & Co. and the Dead Rabbit, respectively, both also in New York; and Northern Hospitality, from the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in Portland, Maine.”
With a husband-and-wife duo at the helm who just published their debut cookbook, Portland Hunt + Alpine Club blends in Scandinavian-design accents, from the modern wire animal heads and Nelson lights to communal tables.
“It’s the greatest espresso martini in the world,” says mixologist Jackson Cannon of Boston’s excellent bar, the Hawthorne. “By being true to their approach to sourcing and DIY, they landed on a drink that—while faithful to its origins—is richer and more expressive than the original.”
In their recent cookbook/cocktail guide, Northern Hospitality with the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club (Voyageur Press, August 2018), Andrew and his wife Briana Volk shared their recipe.
Obviously, if you haven't already booked a trip to Maine's mecca for fine food and drink there is no time to waste. And to help you with your itinerary we asked Briana Volk, co-owner of Little Giant and the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club (see below) as well as the author of the cool new book Northern Hospitality, for some highlights:
Because if anyone knows how to make cold weather living look good, it’s the husband-and-wife team behind Portland, Maine hotspots Portland Hunt + Alpine Club and newer sister restaurant Little Giant. Through their inspiring book, the Volks share secrets to getting hygge-with-it (sorry) Northern-style, blending inspiration from their Maine lifestyle and Briana’s Scandinavian heritage.
“Northern Hospitality” is like an invitation to a party that fights the raging blizzard outside with hot buttered rum, oven pancakes drizzled in warm maple syrup, and Swedish meatballs served over homemade spaetzle.
Swing by Little Giant, the sophomore effort from the team behind local favorite Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, which gets clever with dishes like lobster chips with serrano ranch and Moxie-braised pork belly. The sister market next door sells local beers and groceries and daily specials (don’t miss Friday and Saturday’s roast chicken and biscuits).
"Finns, like most Scandinavian cultures, are very good at being by themselves," says Briana Volk, the half-Finnish co-owner of thePortland Hunt + Alpine Club, a Scandinavian-influenced cocktail bar in Maine, and the co-author of the forthcoming book, "Northern Hospitality with The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club: A Celebration of Cocktails, Cooking, and Coming Together." Volk, fluent in Finnish, was raised in Astoria, Oregon where she was part of strong Finnish community.
On the menu since day one, this cocktail from Portland Hunt + Alpine Club is an easy-to-make aperitif that pleases even the pickiest drinkers. “This drink is great because it’s low in alcohol; it is a great spacer when you feel like you don’t want something strong, and it’s wonderful to sip when you’re just not in the mood for stronger spirits,” Briana and Andrew Volk explain in their new book, Northern Hospitality With The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club.
Inspired by her NBC interview, KABC radio in Los Angeles came calling. Doug McIntyre of the “McIntyre in the Morning” show interviewed Briana Tuesday to talk about her book — and to elaborate more on the meaning of päntsdrunk. If this keeps up, she’ll sell lots of books and inadvertently become an authority on the topic.
Of course, the book will be a cocktail guide, and will also feature New England and Scandinavian-inspired food. The Volks will also ruminate on life in cold climates—imagine pieces about how to build a campfire, and how to get your kids to eat oysters, Briana says.
“We will also be diving into things like Aquavit,” a distinctive Scandinavian spirit, “the lure of Allen’s Coffee Brandy, and building a killer smorgasbord,” she says.
Briana’s Finnish roots are evident throughout the home with its inspired approach to Scandinavian design. “We wanted it to be Scandinavia meets Palm Springs,” she says. “Winters are so long and brutal, and I am a warm weather person. Even during the winter, I wanted to create the simplicity and warmth and energy you can find in a midcentury home.”
Although the couple owns both a nationally known upscale cocktail bar and a highly regarded restaurant, dinner at the ballpark with the Volk family looks like dinner at the ballpark with just about any other fan: two franks with mustard and relish, a slice of pepperoni pizza (for their daughter, Oona), a jumbo pretzel with yellow mustard, a souvenir batting helmet stuffed with fries that are smothered in Creamsicle-colored nacho cheese, and a single Sea Dog Biscuit to be shared among the family of four. The cheese-topped fries are by special request of Briana, who calls them, affectionately, Sea Dog poutine.