Monday February 28, 2011 | 10:19 PM

No matter that an an icy mix of rain and snow covered Maine roads tonight. More than 400 people braved the slick streets for the kick-off party to Maine Restaurant Week. The Signature Event - Cocktail & Dessert Competition, served up more than a dozen bartenders and pastry chefs inside the opulent and mystique-laden confines of Portland's grand Masonic Temple.

After party guests voted, tops honors for best cocktail went to Academe at The Kennebunk Inn for the Sage Against the Machine, composed of Absolut Raspberry vodka, triple sec, St. Germain, sour mix, muddled sage and lime.

Here Lori Voornas of Q97.9 holds the microphone for Academe bartender Adrian Trudeau who thanks the revelers for their good taste. Standing to his left is Brian O'Hea, chef/owner of The Kennebunk Inn, and Jeff Johnson, of Double Cross Vodka. Adrian is holding up a bottle of Double Cross Vodka, which went to each winner.

The first runner up in the competition was Brian Boru's hot ginger and lemon whiskey tea. Second runner up was last year's winner Natalie's, which still turned in a respectable showing with its House Soda.

The party also featured a juried dessert competition.

Here Maine native and Top Chef Just Desserts star Zac Young and his fellow judges listen to Karen Turner, the pastry chef from the Sea Glass, describe her goat cheese and fig dessert. Zac was joined at the judges' table by Portland Press Herald food writer Meredith Goad, left, and cookbook authors Kathy Gunst and Dana Moos.

After sampling five desserts, the judges pronounced the Salt Exchange's Cream Stout gingerbread with smoked sea salt and bourbon caramel, black pepper, vanilla ice cream, candied bacon and cinnamon tulle the winner.

Professionals weren't the only ones to judge the sweets. Here Francesca Kerr and Patience Cleveland of Falmouth select samples of the seasonal mini cupcakes from Stephanie O'Neil of Tulips Cupcakery.

And while these cupcakes were a popular treat at the party, the people's choice award went to Walter's Kit Katt bar with sea salted caramel.

I spotted many members of the media (both on the job and off) at the party. Here WBLM's The Guru (aka Brian Jones) and fellow DJ Dominic Lavoie (who's the front man for the band Dominic and the Lucid) interview Salt Exchange bartender Tatum Thistle live on the air from the party floor.

The festivities were held in two large rooms that open onto the entry hall. The above photo shows the view from the balcony of the Commandery Knights Templar Armory room.

I'll have lots more photos and details from the party in the March 6 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Until then, I hope to see you out and about.

About the Author

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Avery Yale Kamila dishes about southern Maine's hottest parties.

Avery can be contacted at 791-6297 or akamila@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @AveryYaleKamila

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