Sailors love their spirits, and so do we. How better to wash down the sea-salt air than with a cold cocktail? A beer tastes delightful if you’re lounging on the beach; a summery-sweet drink feels nice after a day in the sun. There’s a reason why summer loving is such a blast (and, troublingly, why it sometimes happens so fast) — and that reason is often found in the enchanting combination of sand, booze, and summer wardrobes. We could wax poetic all day, but instead we’ll pass on our beach-boozing tips, so you can write some lyrics of your own.
Let’s start right here in Portland, where water sports and ocean gazing are regular summer pastimes. For a bona fide waterfront experience, try THE DRY DOCK — it’s so authentic, in fact, that whole books have been written about the fish stories told at the bar (check out Linda Greenlaw’s All Fishermen Are Liars). Or hop down the street to RIRA IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT, where you have your choice of three drinking spots upstairs and downstairs, plus a brilliant view of the port.
If you want a fancy meal with your martini, try MIM’S BRASSERIE; snag a spot on the upstairs porch and you can observe the boats and Commercial Street crowds from a polite distance. The Foghorn (Bombay Sapphire and fresh citrus served straight up and icy with a splash of ginger) would be an appropriate choice here, or try the Lavender and Honey Bellini, a mixture of champagne, lavender, and honey syrup that sounds like the ideal sunburn balm.
Of course, while the bars are a blast and the food is unrivaled, the beaches of Portland leave a little to be desired. For breathtaking seaside vistas, we have to travel up or down the coast a ways — but there’s no need to bring a stocked cooler, because places to imbibe abound.
The carnival atmosphere at Old Orchard Beach lends itself to boisterous establishments such as THE BIG KAHUNA, HOOLIGAN’S IRISH PUB, and THE PIER PATIO PUB, all located on Old Orchard Beach’s famous pier. Sure, they serve food at Hooligan’s, but the real Irish starter, the menu reminds us, is the two-pour Perfect Pint of Guinness. For a primo people-watching spot, we like THE OCEANSIDE GRILLE at the Brunswick Resort. In the words of one Phoenix staffer, the “view afforded there makes it Maine’s official ‘French-Canadian Banana-Hammock’ observation deck.” We’ll let that visual settle in your imagination.
Just a little farther south, the beaches of Kennebunkport are decidedly more refined — Goose Rocks and Footbridge are two of our favorites — but still offer room to relax after a day in the sun. FEDERAL JACK’S in Kennebunkport is a historic watering hole that offers “a brew with a view.” Here, all the beers on tap (they’re available in growlers to go, too) are brewed right downstairs at the seven-barrel Kennebunkport Brewing Company. And this year, to honor Jack’s fifteenth anniversary, they’ve cooked up a special Fifteenth Anniversary Ale with “a distinguished fresh hop flavor.”