Bottled cocktails from Woodford F&B available to go. Photo courtesy of Woodford F&B

As more restaurants began offering curbside pickup, I joked that I wished they would do cocktails to go. I knew that would never happen, though. And then, I was wrong.

On April 27, the Maine State Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations announced that establishments could begin selling cocktails to go, provided they complied with certain criteria, including that the cocktail order must be accompanied by a food purchase, a drink cannot contain more than 4.5 ounces of spirits and the container must be labeled and tamper-evident.

Numerous bars and restaurants quickly got systems in place to do so, with more jumping on the bandwagon every day. If you don’t see your favorite place mentioned below, don’t despair – contact them and ask whether they’re planning to participate.

Raspberry limonatta and green apple white sangria from Maria’s. Photo by Julie Moulton

Several of my selfless friends volunteered to check out the new phenomenon and report back to me. More than one insisted on trying multiple cocktails, despite my telling them that wasn’t necessary. Their sense of duty and service was inspirational.

One friend went to Black Cow for a $8 Old Fashioned (doubles are available for $16), one friend went to Bird & Co. for a $9 classic margarita and a $10 mango habanero margarita, and one friend went to Maria’s for a $5 green apple white sangria and a $6 raspberry limonatta. Another friend hit up Woodford F&B for a $10 Emergency Margarita” (one of its most popular bar menu items from before lockdown) and a $20 double Old Fashioned.

Chaval, Hunt & Alpine Club and Taco Escobarr are also doing cocktails to go, but I haven’t proxy tested them yet. All these test runs were in Portland, but several places in other locations are participating, such as King Eider’s Pub in Damariscotta, Old Vines Wine Bar in Kennebunk, The Front Porch in Ogunquit and Ada’s Kitchen in Rockland.

My friends came back with the following tips for people ordering cocktails to go for the first time. First, check the prices carefully. There is a wide margin in how much places are charging for a beverage. Second, ask how the establishment addresses the ice situation. If they serve the drink already poured over ice, it risks being too diluted (pause while I gasp in horror and clutch at my pearls) by the time you get home. Ask if they can serve the ice in a separate container if you don’t have your own at home.

An Old Fashioned from Black Cow, cherries added at home. Photo by Jacqueline Moss

Third, if your drink would typically come with a garnish, ask whether they provide said garnish. If not, it might be time to order some Luxardo cherries for your home bar. Frankly, it’s always time to make sure your home bar has Luxardo cherries.

Fourth, before you get thirsty, ask the restaurant how long it typically takes them to fill a cocktail to-go order. Some places let you choose a specific pickup time, but others often have wait times of over an hour.

Lastly, if it’s important to you, ask about the pickup process before you finalize your order. Although the state does not mandate it, some places require that you come inside instead of remaining in your car or picking it up outside.

Cocktails to go will never replace sitting at a bar watching a bartender make and garnish a drink before serving it to you in a special glass, often with a story on the side, but it’s a great way to add a little extra fun to a takeout order during a time when other options are limited and you’re missing your favorite bartender(s). If only they’d deliver, too.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.


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