Feathered boas and pencil-thin heels are often considered the trademark of a diva.

But diva seekers shouldn’t be distracted by flashy accouterments. True leading lady finesse comes from within — that “make room for the diva” attitude.

The same holds true for a diva-worthy martini. The discerning lady drinker knows a classy libation when she tastes one, and it has nothing to do with brightly colored umbrellas or wedges of fruit. It’s what’s on the inside.

Sixteen Greater Portland bars reached for diva glory during The Portland Press Herald’s Divatini Challenge, which spanned the past five weeks.

Each participating venue crafted its own signature “Divatini,” hoping to capture the hearts and votes of local samplers. Thousands of Divatinis were tipped back over the contest’s duration, and votes were entered in person at each establishment.

In the end, four Divatinis rose to the sugar-rimmed top. The diva-pleasing drinks include the Twilight Tini from Bear Bonz BBQ in Naples, the Catch Twenty 2 from Great Lost Bear in Portland, Mr. Big’s Revenge from Pearl Lounge in Portland and the Hubba Bubba Bubble from Bubba’s Sulky Lounge in Portland.

Blending Kahlua, Bailey’s (or Frangelico) and grenadine with a cherry, and garnished with chocolate syrup and chocolate shavings, bartender Meg Sullivan’s Twilight Tini pleased plenty of samplers at Bear Bonz BBQ.

And apparently, word is getting around. “We have people coming in all the time asking for it,” said Bob Nyberg, manager at Bear Bonz BBQ.

Nyberg believes the drink helps show that a bar “out in the boondocks” can still compete with the big city. “We’re planning to win the thing,” he said. “We’ll show something’s going on outside of Portland.”

Closer to the Atlantic, Great Lost Bear server Craig Howard brought his brainchild drink, Catch Twenty 2, to life. The Divatini derives its name from Twenty 2 brand vodka, which is blended with white grape juice, fresh basil, mint and lemon juice.

“The catch was finding the grape juice,” said bar owner Dave Evans. “We had to special-order it.” A deserving diva appreciates a special order.

Bubba’s Sulky Lounge in Portland presented the tongue-twisting Hubba Bubba Bubble drink after running a small in-house contest among the bartenders. Bar manager Cece Champagne’s concoction won, with its sweet mixture of Three Olives Bubble vodka, Sierra Mist and cranberry, drizzled with grenadine and topped with a mint leaf.

Champagne said she was aiming for a drink that suited Bubba’s, with its light-up dance floor and rooms filled with antiques. As for the Hubba Bubba Bubble name? “It’s funny to hear (customers) say it after they’ve had two or three.”

Pearl Lounge in Portland crafted Mr. Big’s Revenge, a play on “Sex and the City” character Mr. Big. Drink creator Josh Miranda, whose name likewise suits a “Sex and the City” theme, said he was aiming to be cutting edge with his drink. “I wanted to make a drink outside the box and also appeal to women,” he said.

Mr. Big’s Revenge revolves around the Double Cross vodka, blackberry and blueberry puree and chai-infused agave nectar. Plenty of trial and error went into the creation, Miranda said, but the effort wasn’t so bad. “Sampling is a lot of fun.”

All four contenders plan on keeping their unique Divatinis on the drink menus this fall, so intrigued martini drinkers can sample the bartenders’ handiwork.

But only one drink can take its place as the coveted 2010 Divatini winner and the signature drink of A Dash of Diva: Girls’ Night Out, which takes place in October.

The martini talent show takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday during The Portland Press Herald’s Divatini Challenge at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland. Attendees can sample all four competing Divatinis during the semi-formal event and cast their vote for the drink that best represents the diva spirit.

There will also be plenty of dancing, light-up martini glasses, appetizers and feather boas.

And while feather boas don’t make a diva, a true diva sure does look grand wrapped in one.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be reached at 791-6333 or at:

[email protected]