These places are taking Maine's cocktail scene to the next level, with new ideas, creative takes on classic drinks, freshly squeezed/pressed/pureed ingredients, and/or house-made syrups. The drinks are made with extreme attention to detail, shaken and stirred by knowledgeable bartenders. Here is the Maine Cocktail Map, featuring the hottest places in the state to grab a drink. The list is ordered roughly north to south and benefits from reader suggestions.Read More
Where to Find Maine's Best Cocktails, February 2015
Forget choco-tinis, these 16 places do it right.
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In a superbly renovated West End space that used to house a notorious dive bar, Outliers pays tribute to Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson both on the menu and in the men's room. Like HST, Outliers takes its booze seriously.
The Bearded Lady's Jewel Box
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: House-made bitters in delicious drinks. The unique vibe is a cross between a hippie love fest and an exclusive speakeasy, unlike anything else in town. [Photo: Corey Templeton]
Liquid Riot Bottling Co. (formerly In'finiti Fermentation & Distillation)
In'finiti may have changed its name and leveled its interior, but it continues to turn out house spirits from the beautiful copper column still that can't be missed from the entrance. This further elevates its excellent cocktail menu, which already uses house syrups, fresh ingredients, and perfect ice cubes.
Chris and Paige Gould's Central Provisions has made a serious name for itself as a well-rounded food and drink spot. The cocktails help. Bar manager Patrick McDonald puts his own spin on classics, features inventive specials, and even offers thoughtful "temperance drinks" for those who want an exciting drink with none of the exciting alcohol.
With its elaborate, always-evolving cocktail menu featuring a wide variety of house-infused liquors, freshly squeezed juices, and innovative syrups, it's easy to see why the bar at Sonny's is often SRO on weekend nights. [Photo: Ted Axelrod]
Top of The East Rooftop Lounge
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.
The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club
This craft cocktail bar from Andrew and Briana Volk, with an all-star cast of bartenders, quickly became a go-to spot for meticulously made drinks. The recently pared down menu features classics (with the date and place of origin), clever "house" cocktails, and a daily $6 punch; the capable staff can also whip up any number of off-menu concoctions.
The stunning restaurant used to be a church, and its cheeky drink menu pays homage to the holy history. For instance, there are the Seven Deadly Sins, including Pride: Tito’s Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, lime, and rosemary lime cranberry simple syrup. If the ground-level seats are full, look toward the heavens to find a second bar.
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Eventide Oyster Co.
Recognized by national and international publications for its food, Eventide's cocktails can't be overlooked. The menu is fun, the drinks original and delicious. Take the Dirty Dirty Martini, which earns its double adjective with the addition of oyster brine and hot sauce. [Photo: Ted Axelrod]
Marché Kitchen and Wine Bar
When wine whiz Susan Hall bought Marché last year, she stepped up all aspects of its service. Tom Ardia beefed up the cocktail program, 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.
The Black Birch
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 house-made Falernum, or the simpler signature drink 2 Govt., named for the restaurant's address and showcasing Maker's Mark with lemon, Grenadine, and bitters.
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 warm up with your own Winter in New England, with hot, local cider, dark rum, vanilla bean, and bitters.
While the delicious food at this late night standby is described by the restaurant as "very Thai," Boda's cocktail list is inspired by Asian fruit and herbs, with wild creations alongside reimagined classics. Get your buzz on with an Awesome Coffee featuring Thai iced coffee with vodka and more, or see what the addition of Thai basil can do to a tried and true Tom Collins.
Natalie's at Camden Harbour Inn
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.
The Fiddlehead Restaurant
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 creative originals like Gin and the Giant Peach.
Ebb & Flow
The regular cocktail line-up is inventive enough, with selections like Gunpowder and Sand featuring New England Distilling's Gunpowder Rye Whiskey infused with Japanese rice tea. But go for Happy Hour from 4 - 6 p.m. and try the special, discounted cocktail of the day, which changes regularly based on the whims of bar manager Dan Klenske.
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