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Temple at Tempo Dulu, Portland.
Temple at Tempo Dulu, Portland.
Kyle J. Norris/Eater

Where to Drink Cocktails in Maine, Fall 2016

Forget choco-tinis, these 21 places do it right.

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Temple at Tempo Dulu, Portland.
| Kyle J. Norris/Eater

You can get a rum and coke anywhere, but what about a true cocktail? Here are 21 fine establishments taking Maine's spirits scene to the next level with creative takes on classics, novel innovations, local ingredients, and house-made syrups. Some have just opened, others are newly surging. The latest additions to the list are Stroudwater Distillery, Rhum, and Woodford F&B.

Note: map points are listed north to south; there is no ranking.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Bearded Lady's Jewel Box

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644 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 747-5384
Visit Website
Wandering cocktail wizard Nathaniel Meiklejohn successfully Kickstarted his hip bar, The Bearded Lady's Jewel Box. Supporters knew what to expect from his many private events over the years: housemade bitters in delicious drinks. The unique vibe is a cross between a hippie love fest and an exclusive speakeasy, unlike anything else in town.

2. Central Provisions

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414 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 805-1085
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Chris and Paige Gould's restaurant has made a serious name for itself as a well-rounded food and drink spot. Bar manager Patrick McDonald creates cocktails with local distillers, ferments his own sodas, and even offers thoughtful "temperance drinks" for those who want a fun experience with none of that exciting alcohol.
Tom Minervino/Eater

3. Top Of The East Rooftop Lounge

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(207) 775-5411
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Touted as Portland's only rooftop bar, the Westin Portland Harborview's remodeled lounge offers incomparable views of the city and a dress code of "Casual Sophistication." Order a classic to go with your sightseeing or select a twist from the craft cocktail menu, like a Cucumber Collins with Hendrick’s gin, freshly muddled cucumber, club soda, and lime.

4. The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club

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75 Market Street
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 747-4754
Visit Website
Portland's first craft cocktail-focused bar from Andrew and Briana Volk and an all-star cast of bartenders quickly became a go-to spot for meticulously made drinks. The changeable menu features classics (with dates and places of origin listed), booze on draft, clever house cocktails, and a daily $6 punch; the capable staff can also whip up any number of off-menu concoctions.

5. Eventide Oyster Co.

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86 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-8538
Visit Website
Recognized by national and international publications for its food, Eventide's cocktails shouldn't be overlooked either. The menu is whimsical, the drinks original and delicious. Take the Dirty Dirty Martini, which earns its double adjective with the addition of oyster brine and hot sauce.

6. Marché Kitchen and Wine Bar

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40 Lisbon St, Lewiston
ME, 04240
(207) 333-3836
Visit Website
When wine whiz Susan Hall bought Marché last year, she tasked Tom Ardia with beefing up the cocktail program. He's executing classic cocktails like the Boulevardier (the whiskey drinker's Negroni) as well as more unusual offerings like Sangre Y Arena, which has smokey mezcal, cherry heering, chocolate molé bitters, and blood orange juice.

7. The Black Birch

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2 Government St
Kittery, ME 03904
(207) 703-2294
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The impressive draft list at The Black Birch gets the lion's share of attention, but the bar mixes a mean cocktail, too, pulling obscure spirits whenever feasible. Try the Clown Car featuring rum and housemade Falernum, or the simpler signature drink 2 Govt., named for the restaurant's address and showcasing Maker's Mark with lemon, Grenadine, and bitters.

8. Thistle Pig

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279 Main St
South Berwick, ME 03908
(207) 704-0627
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The cocktail list here has been called "advanced" for the area, and features mainly creative house takes with a few classics for good measure, like a Sazerac. Share a big batch of punch with the table or cool off with an Ode to the Islands, featuring Mount Gay rum, tamarind reduction, fresh lime, and pineapple.

9. Natalie's at Camden Harbour Inn

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83 Bayview St
Camden, ME 04843
(207) 236-7008
Visit Website
Mac McGaw embraces the role of sharply dressed, mustachioed mixologist behind the bar at upscale Camden Harbor Inn. He doesn't shy away from a challenging cocktail, like a fall-inspired Mainehattan with local rye whiskey, a lavender syrup-infused ice sphere, and wood chips smoked for each glass.

10. The Fiddlehead Restaurant

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84 Hammond St
Bangor, ME 04401
(207) 942-3336
Visit Website
The Fiddlehead's cocktail menu changes every few months or so, and it's never a lazy list. Try tweaked classics like a Smoky Gin/Vodka Martini with smoked sea salt and smoked gouda-stuffed olives, or unusual originals like Gin and the Giant Peach.

11. The Maine House

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119 Water Street
Hallowell, ME 04347
(207) 621-1234
Visit Website
A killer local beer selection is only half the story at this young spot. Mother and daughter duo Coby and Deanna Thibeau are also raising the bar for cocktails in Hallowell, with house infusions, seasonal menu changes, private tastings, and the willingness—and ability—to go off-menu. How many other places in the area keep egg whites on hand for drinks?

12. The Wallingford

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7 Wallingford Sq Ste 101, Kittery
ME, 03904
(207) 703-4298
Visit Website
New on the scene, The Wallingford sees the creative team behind adjacent Anju Noodle Bar providing Kittery Foreside with yet another great option for a night out. Bar manager Michael Pazdon is working on a farm-to-bar concept to rival those of California, with fewer fresh persimmons and more fermented local goodies, like the blueberries in the Chamomile Collins. Bonus: the bar provides pre-bottled sparkling cocktails for Anju.

13. Vena's Fizz House

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345 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 747-4901
Visit Website
A successful start as a craft mocktail bar and retail shop for cocktail accoutrements led to a logical conclusion: a liquor license and true cocktails at night. Whether you opt for booze in your drink or not, you're bound to get a thrill from the staggering array of bitters and other flavor enhancers here. The knowledgeable staff is eager to sample you on the individual ingredients that make up the complex concoctions, but be warned: you're going to want to take home those fine ingredients from the store after.

14. Union

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119 Exchange St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 808-8700
Visit Website
Well-known Portland bartender Chris Gatchell recently stepped down from his role at Union and sister bar Inkwell, but thanks to his guidance they remain drink destinations for more than just Press Hotel guests. Look for seasonally-inspired specials and house inventions like Emilia Romagna, with Tito's vodka, orange clove syrup, and a sparkling Lambrusco float.

15. Fuel Restaurant

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49 Lisbon St
Lewiston, ME 04240
(207) 333-3835
Visit Website
Helping push the envelope in Lewiston, Rachel Jalbert juices, infuses, and smokes cocktail ingredients with the best of 'em. Her extensive menu at this popular French bistro is inventive and approachable, with plenty of clever twists on classics (try the recent sparkling Tokyo Sangria, with house-infused plum wine as a base and garnished with pickled ginger, or a variety of takes on a Moscow Mule). Tell her how you're feeling and let her pick your poison.

16. Glass Lounge

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433 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 775-1000
Visit Website
While the dramatic surroundings and the nightly projected classic film are nice touches, the best part here is signature drinks like the bold Smoke and Glass Manhattan. Keep an eye on the rotating specials, too.

17. Tempo Dulu

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163 Danforth St
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 879-8755
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At this Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant from the owners of Natalie's, bar manager Trevin Hutchins sticks to the theme. He showcases dramatic, distinct drinks with plenty of eastern influence, like a sake snow cone or the Jakarta (pictured), featuring rye, amaro, cynar, vermouth, bitters, absinthe mist, all smoked with Chinese 5-spice. Be aware going in, these are some of Portland's highest cocktail prices.
Raymond Brunyanszki

18. King Eider's Pub and Restaurant

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2 Elm St
Damariscotta, ME 04543
(207) 563-6008
Visit Website
If you find yourself traveling along Route 1 near Damariscotta when a mighty thirst overtakes you, King Eider's Pub is a worthy watering hole. The pub has an extensive whiskey collection, a handful of solid whiskey drinks, and, according to sources, one of the ultimate versions of a Dark and Stormy.

19. Bramhall

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769 Congress St
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 805.1978
Visit Website
With the rebirth of this neighborhood favorite came an upgrade in the cocktail menu too. Try something unusual like the Night-Rye-Der, made with rye, bitters, an absinthe rinse, and "rye-bread" syrup.

20. Rhum Food +  Grog

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4 Free St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 536-1774
Visit Website
The tiki bar crazy finally comes to Portland with Rhum, an island-inspired haunt with a subterranean feel. Cocktails naturally cover the tiki classics like Painkillers and Zombies, and large format punches in Sailor Jerry oil cans are available.

21. Woodford F&B

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660 Forest Ave
Portland, ME 04103
(207) 200-8503
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This Woodfords Corner restaurant has quickly become a neighborhood favorite and that's in part due to the bar program. Snag a seat at the retro bar and order a Harrowing Beauty with Tom Cat gin, white peach puree, thyme syrup, and sparkling wine or a Hemingway Daiquiri made with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.

22. Stroudwater Distillery

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Thompsons Point
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 272-7327
Visit Website
The newest booze business at Thompson's Point makes its own vodka, gin, rye, and bourbon. Famed Portland bartender John Myers is behind the bar, shaking up these housemade spirits with other local ingredients like Royal Rose simple syrups and Owl and Whale mixers. Try the Eastern Buck, bourbon, lemon, sugar, strawberry, ginger beer, and bitters.
Kate McCarty

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1. The Bearded Lady's Jewel Box

644 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
Wandering cocktail wizard Nathaniel Meiklejohn successfully Kickstarted his hip bar, The Bearded Lady's Jewel Box. Supporters knew what to expect from his many private events over the years: housemade bitters in delicious drinks. The unique vibe is a cross between a hippie love fest and an exclusive speakeasy, unlike anything else in town.
644 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101

2. Central Provisions

414 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101
Tom Minervino/Eater
Chris and Paige Gould's restaurant has made a serious name for itself as a well-rounded food and drink spot. Bar manager Patrick McDonald creates cocktails with local distillers, ferments his own sodas, and even offers thoughtful "temperance drinks" for those who want a fun experience with none of that exciting alcohol.
414 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101

3. Top Of The East Rooftop Lounge

Portland, ME
Touted as Portland's only rooftop bar, the Westin Portland Harborview's remodeled lounge offers incomparable views of the city and a dress code of "Casual Sophistication." Order a classic to go with your sightseeing or select a twist from the craft cocktail menu, like a Cucumber Collins with Hendrick’s gin, freshly muddled cucumber, club soda, and lime.

4. The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club

75 Market Street, Portland, ME 04101
Portland's first craft cocktail-focused bar from Andrew and Briana Volk and an all-star cast of bartenders quickly became a go-to spot for meticulously made drinks. The changeable menu features classics (with dates and places of origin listed), booze on draft, clever house cocktails, and a daily $6 punch; the capable staff can also whip up any number of off-menu concoctions.
75 Market Street
Portland, ME 04101

5. Eventide Oyster Co.

86 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
Recognized by national and international publications for its food, Eventide's cocktails shouldn't be overlooked either. The menu is whimsical, the drinks original and delicious. Take the Dirty Dirty Martini, which earns its double adjective with the addition of oyster brine and hot sauce.
86 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101

6. Marché Kitchen and Wine Bar

40 Lisbon St, Lewiston, ME, 04240
When wine whiz Susan Hall bought Marché last year, she tasked Tom Ardia with beefing up the cocktail program. He's executing classic cocktails like the Boulevardier (the whiskey drinker's Negroni) as well as more unusual offerings like Sangre Y Arena, which has smokey mezcal, cherry heering, chocolate molé bitters, and blood orange juice.
40 Lisbon St, Lewiston
ME, 04240

7. The Black Birch

2 Government St, Kittery, ME 03904
The impressive draft list at The Black Birch gets the lion's share of attention, but the bar mixes a mean cocktail, too, pulling obscure spirits whenever feasible. Try the Clown Car featuring rum and housemade Falernum, or the simpler signature drink 2 Govt., named for the restaurant's address and showcasing Maker's Mark with lemon, Grenadine, and bitters.
2 Government St
Kittery, ME 03904

8. Thistle Pig

279 Main St, South Berwick, ME 03908
The cocktail list here has been called "advanced" for the area, and features mainly creative house takes with a few classics for good measure, like a Sazerac. Share a big batch of punch with the table or cool off with an Ode to the Islands, featuring Mount Gay rum, tamarind reduction, fresh lime, and pineapple.
279 Main St
South Berwick, ME 03908

9. Natalie's at Camden Harbour Inn

83 Bayview St, Camden, ME 04843
Mac McGaw embraces the role of sharply dressed, mustachioed mixologist behind the bar at upscale Camden Harbor Inn. He doesn't shy away from a challenging cocktail, like a fall-inspired Mainehattan with local rye whiskey, a lavender syrup-infused ice sphere, and wood chips smoked for each glass.
83 Bayview St
Camden, ME 04843

10. The Fiddlehead Restaurant

84 Hammond St, Bangor, ME 04401
The Fiddlehead's cocktail menu changes every few months or so, and it's never a lazy list. Try tweaked classics like a Smoky Gin/Vodka Martini with smoked sea salt and smoked gouda-stuffed olives, or unusual originals like Gin and the Giant Peach.
84 Hammond St
Bangor, ME 04401

11. The Maine House

119 Water Street, Hallowell, ME 04347
A killer local beer selection is only half the story at this young spot. Mother and daughter duo Coby and Deanna Thibeau are also raising the bar for cocktails in Hallowell, with house infusions, seasonal menu changes, private tastings, and the willingness—and ability—to go off-menu. How many other places in the area keep egg whites on hand for drinks?
119 Water Street
Hallowell, ME 04347

12. The Wallingford

7 Wallingford Sq Ste 101, Kittery, ME, 03904
New on the scene, The Wallingford sees the creative team behind adjacent Anju Noodle Bar providing Kittery Foreside with yet another great option for a night out. Bar manager Michael Pazdon is working on a farm-to-bar concept to rival those of California, with fewer fresh persimmons and more fermented local goodies, like the blueberries in the Chamomile Collins. Bonus: the bar provides pre-bottled sparkling cocktails for Anju.
7 Wallingford Sq Ste 101, Kittery
ME, 03904

13. Vena's Fizz House

345 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101
A successful start as a craft mocktail bar and retail shop for cocktail accoutrements led to a logical conclusion: a liquor license and true cocktails at night. Whether you opt for booze in your drink or not, you're bound to get a thrill from the staggering array of bitters and other flavor enhancers here. The knowledgeable staff is eager to sample you on the individual ingredients that make up the complex concoctions, but be warned: you're going to want to take home those fine ingredients from the store after.
345 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101

14. Union

119 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101
Well-known Portland bartender Chris Gatchell recently stepped down from his role at Union and sister bar Inkwell, but thanks to his guidance they remain drink destinations for more than just Press Hotel guests. Look for seasonally-inspired specials and house inventions like Emilia Romagna, with Tito's vodka, orange clove syrup, and a sparkling Lambrusco float.
119 Exchange St
Portland, ME 04101

15. Fuel Restaurant

49 Lisbon St, Lewiston, ME 04240
Helping push the envelope in Lewiston, Rachel Jalbert juices, infuses, and smokes cocktail ingredients with the best of 'em. Her extensive menu at this popular French bistro is inventive and approachable, with plenty of clever twists on classics (try the recent sparkling Tokyo Sangria, with house-infused plum wine as a base and garnished with pickled ginger, or a variety of takes on a Moscow Mule). Tell her how you're feeling and let her pick your poison.
49 Lisbon St
Lewiston, ME 04240

16. Glass Lounge

433 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101
While the dramatic surroundings and the nightly projected classic film are nice touches, the best part here is signature drinks like the bold Smoke and Glass Manhattan. Keep an eye on the rotating specials, too.
433 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101

17. Tempo Dulu

163 Danforth St, Portland, ME 04102
Raymond Brunyanszki
At this Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant from the owners of Natalie's, bar manager Trevin Hutchins sticks to the theme. He showcases dramatic, distinct drinks with plenty of eastern influence, like a sake snow cone or the Jakarta (pictured), featuring rye, amaro, cynar, vermouth, bitters, absinthe mist, all smoked with Chinese 5-spice. Be aware going in, these are some of Portland's highest cocktail prices.
163 Danforth St
Portland, ME 04102

18. King Eider's Pub and Restaurant

2 Elm St, Damariscotta, ME 04543
If you find yourself traveling along Route 1 near Damariscotta when a mighty thirst overtakes you, King Eider's Pub is a worthy watering hole. The pub has an extensive whiskey collection, a handful of solid whiskey drinks, and, according to sources, one of the ultimate versions of a Dark and Stormy.
2 Elm St
Damariscotta, ME 04543

19. Bramhall

769 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102
With the rebirth of this neighborhood favorite came an upgrade in the cocktail menu too. Try something unusual like the Night-Rye-Der, made with rye, bitters, an absinthe rinse, and "rye-bread" syrup.
769 Congress St
Portland, ME 04102

20. Rhum Food +  Grog

4 Free St, Portland, ME 04101
The tiki bar crazy finally comes to Portland with Rhum, an island-inspired haunt with a subterranean feel. Cocktails naturally cover the tiki classics like Painkillers and Zombies, and large format punches in Sailor Jerry oil cans are available.
4 Free St
Portland, ME 04101

21. Woodford F&B

660 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04103