July 14, 2011

Bar Guide: Maxwell's is more than sports, karaoke

It's a relaxed place to catch a game, people watch or chat with friends in Ogunquit.


Unlike some of the nightclubs and posh fine-dining restaurants in the Ogunquit area, Maxwell's Pub & Grill is a place anyone can walk into off the street -- in beach clothes or date-night attire -- and feel welcome.

click image to enlarge

Owner Mike Smith serves a Newcastle Brown Ale, one of many microbrew drafts offered at Maxwell’s Pub & Grill in Ogunquit.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 234 Main St., Ogunquit; 646-2345; maxwellspub.com

SUMMER HOURS: Noon to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday

PARKING: One- and two-hour parking in the municipal lot across the street, 30-minute on-street parking until 6 p.m., and a few spaces to the side of the building off Berwick Road

SPECIALS: Half Time from 4 to 5 p.m. every day (except holiday weekends), which means half-off wine, domestic bottles, draft beer and selected appetizers.

PEOPLE WATCHING: On one of the only outdoor decks in Ogunquit, you can watch the hustle and bustle of the tourists and the locals from the comfort of your patio seat.

BARSTOOL COMFORT: Classic round-seated bar stools with no back and rungs to hang your feet off of.

I-SPY: The Musk Ox Who Cannot Be Named

GUILTY PLEASURE: Red Light Martini (raspberry and orange liqueurs, raspberry vodka and cranberry juice, $6.50)

A mile from the beach on Main Street, Maxwell's isn't hard to find. With seating for 20 patrons, the U-shaped wooden bar is the focal point of the place. Televisions above the bar are often tuned to various New England sporting events. For those who want to go a little easier on their necks, there are large flat-screen televisions hanging in two corners of the room.

If sports on TV isn't really your thing, you can head out to the patio perched above the busy Main Street area. In summer, Ogunquit is one of the best melting pots of touristy people watching available in Maine, so there is no way you will be disappointed with the choice.

Named after Maxwell's Grocery Store, a fixture in the Ogunquit community for more than 100 years that was located in the spot where the pub is now, Maxwell's has become notorious for its karaoke.

You can sing as much Journey and Lady Gaga as your little heart wants six nights a week. In fact, some of the televisions usually switch over to karaoke lyrics so the entire bar can sing along with their favorites (while a few still stay tuned to any games that might be on).

Many people will only grab a microphone to belt out their own off-key renditions of classics if they have a bit of liquid encouragement beforehand. Maxwell's certainly does not disappoint when it comes to drinks.

After reading some of the online reviews, I was a little nervous to try some of the alleged watery cocktails that reviewers claimed were slung here. I was happy to discover that weak drinks are not the norm at Maxwell's.

One need only look at the huge jar on the bar, which holds a berry infusion mixture (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries soaked in vanilla vodka, $7.50) to know that this place means business.

In addition to the classic well drink offerings, Maxwell's also creates a menu of original cocktails with a heavy beach vacation attitude. Fruity mixtures and clear liquors dominate the menu in the summer, and the only thing missing is a little umbrella and some sand to dip your toes in.

In a throwback to the once-revered Ecto Cooler punch, the bartenders have been having a lot of fun experimenting with the new Dude Vodka from Three Olives, said owner Mike Smith. Dude Vodka tastes like grown-up Mountain Dew, and you can test it out with a Green Atta Dude (Dude Vodka, Apple Pucker, energy drink and 7-Up, $9).

With an eye to the beer-drinking clientele who frequent the pub to watch a game or relax on a sunny evening, Maxwell's offers a great assortment of brews. Sporting a dozen beers and cider on tap ($4 to $5.50), the selection is eclectic, and heavily features Maine brewery Gritty McDuff's. You also can find many favorites in bottles ($4 to $5), and Bud Light and Miller Lite are available on draft.

As expected in any pub and grill worth its weight in pub and grill food, Maxwell's has a great appetizer menu. I tried the fried mac and cheese bites ($6.75) after the waitress by the bar enthusiastically swore they were her favorite thing on the menu. She was right; I had no idea cheesy-carbohydratey-greasiness dipped in ranch dressing could taste so delicious.

If your appetizer preference is a little more high-brow than mine, you can grab a full pound of Maxwell's mussels ($7.95) and maybe pair them with one of the house wines ($5.50 to $6.50).

If you are looking for a relaxed place to catch a game, people watch or chat with friends in Ogunquit, make sure to check out Maxwell's Pub & Grill.

Elisa Doucette is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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