There’s an old saying I’ve heard in the bars over the years that goes something like this… In wartime, the ancient Germans made their decisions while drunk but carried them out while sober. The ancient Medes made combat decisions sober and went into battle drunk. But the Vikings were hammered the whole time.
Transposing the topic from war to real estate, I’ve just boldly displayed my Nordic heritage.
I am now the proud owner of a 2,200-square-foot farmhouse in the town of East Millinocket, Maine. It’s an exciting project. I plan to thoroughly gut and renovate the place. Of course, it’s also a bit overwhelming, so when my girlfriend and I drove up to there the first weekend in January, we also scouted around for a relaxing drinking establishment. We saw a place called the Hamlet Pub only a block away from my new property. It looked like the one bar in East Millinocket that could be our regular weekend hangout, but after a drive through town, it occured to us that it’s the one bar in East Millinocket, period.
The Hamlet had a sign advertising “light lunches,” so we decided to give it a try. It’s located right on Main Street, but there was plenty of parking. The closure of the paper mills hit this area hard, and though the one in East Millinocket has reopened and there are plans to produce wood pellets at Millinocket’s facility, the communities have yet to really recover.
The pub is fairly small, with a full-sized pool table centered in the room. The walls are uncluttered, white and high, which makes the space seem bigger. There’s wood trim and a wooden bar, lightly stained. It felt welcoming. There were about a dozen patrons loitering about, most focused on a pool game in progress. They stared at us for a moment when we walked in, then turned their attention back to the action.
We sat at the triangular bar in view of the pool table and TV. The bartender, a friendly young woman, greeted us warmly. When we requested menus, she politely explained that there weren’t any, but directed us to the chips and dip on one of the few small tables against a wall. She said pizza and burgers would be available later in the evening. The woman sitting next to us recommended the chicken dip. It was bright orange.
My girlfriend, a vegetarian, whispered that perhaps the diner back toward the highway would be a better option, then excused herself and headed for the restroom. The fan of the chicken dip hadn’t heard her, but offered the same advice. I thanked her and, to be neighborly, flagged the bartender to get a round before we left.
I ordered a can of Coke for myself (I was driving) and a Marker’s Mark on the rocks for my girl. The bartender pulled a can of Coke from the cooler, cracked the tab, and said, “Hon, I can make you any drink you want, but you’ll just have to tell me — what’s in a Maker’s Mark?”
I was dumbfounded for a moment, then replied in what I hoped was the least indignant tone I could govern: “Maker’s Mark.”
Confused, she flashed a look to a fellow behind the bar, who shot back that he believed Maker’s Mark was a whiskey.
“It’s alright,” I interrupted, already ashamed of my retort. I spotted a bottle of Jameson tucked in among the few dozen bottles above the cooler and changed the order. She kindly poured it and set the glass on the bar.
When my girlfriend returned, I mentioned that the woman beside us had also suggested the diner. She adminished me, teasingly, not to flirt with the locals. I gave her the same advice. Then she spotted the biggest guy in the place and said he’d probably flirt with her whether I was there or not.
This dude was something out of a Lynyrd Skynyrd song, well over six feet tall and seemingly as wide. The shirt stretched across his chest proudly proclaimed though he had “99 problems,” his “swag” was not among them. I had to agree with both of them.
When we finished our drinks and made our way to the door, a few of the locals, my new neighbors, wished us a good evening. I already had a good feeling about the Hamlet Pub. The drinks had left my pocket only $6 lighter. I had no doubt we’d be back. A lot.
— Carl Currie