Words by
Keeping Warm—Inside and Out
Photography by
Winter booze to keep you toasty

While drinking in winter generally brings to mind things served hot—toddies and mulled wine at the lodge or warm punch, hot cocoa, and coffee concoctions with added alcohol at the company party, this does not have to be the case at all. In reaching out to restaurants in Bar Harbor, Kittery, and Portland, we discovered that bartenders mix and match all kinds of flavors and alcohols to create warmth that has nothing to do with the temperature of the liquid in your glass. At the Black Birch in Kittery, they get a dark, rich effect by combining just a bit of whisky with bourbon-barrel aged ale and cherry liqueur. Way up north in Bar Harbor, the heat comes from spicy ginger juice spiking dark rum. In between, at Lolita in Portland, it is a mix of rye, apple brandy, and maple syrup touched with aromatics that warm the palate.


Red Sky Dark & Stormy

Red Sky Restaurant, MDI: Southwest Harbor


2½ ounces Gosling’s Black Seal Rum

5½ ounces Maine Root Ginger Beer

1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice

Lime twist for garnish


Fill a Collins glass with ice, add the rum and ginger juice then top with ginger beer. Stir once or twice. Garnish with lime twist and serve.


“At Red Sky,” said Elizabeth Lindquist, who owns Red Sky with her husband, James, “we really like our ginger. Here, the fresh ginger juice offsets the sweetness of the rum.” 


Their restaurant, tucked away in the compact village of Southwest Harbor, is a refuge open almost year round, always welcoming to strangers and regulars alike with an inventive and spirited menu offering much local and from the sea.


North Woods

Lolita, Portland


1 ounce Bulleit Rye

1 ounce Bartlett Fine Apple Brandy

¾ ounce  Benedictine

¼ ounce green Chartreuse

½ ounce fresh lemon juice

½ ounce maple syrup

1 dash Sweetgrass Farm Cranberry Bitters

Lemon peel twist garnish


Chill a martini glass. Place all ingredients but the lemon peel in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Empty martini glass. Shake cocktail shaker and strain into the martini glass.  Garnish with the lemon twist. Creator Stella Hernandez says, “the drink should not be pink – just a dash of the bitters will do, thank you.”


At Lolita atop Portland’s Munjoy Hill, the barkeep’s approach to mixing drinks is just as precise and demanding as Chef Guy Hernnandez working the stove. Between the two, you’re sure to come away not just satisfied, but feeling fat, sassy, and spoiled into the bargain!


The Dead Letter Office

Black Birch, Kittery


3/4 ounce rye whiskey

3/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino cherry liqueur

3/4 ounce lemon juice

Green chartreuse to rinse

3+ ounces Allagash Curieux Bourbon Barrel Aged Strong Ale


Chill a cocktail glass. In a cocktail shaker, mix the rye, Luxardo, and lemon juice and shake. Pour just enough green chartreuse in the chilled glass to coat it while swirling. Dump remaining chartreuse. Strain the mixture from the cocktail shaker into the glass. Top with 3+ ounces Allagash Curieux.


If this drink doesn’t make you “curieux” about Black Birch, you need to have another. Seriously, with a turntable and stack of vinyls behind the bar and a finely-tuned 19th-century sensibility in the atmosphere and drink list, this is a joint not to miss.


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