With all due respect to those coastal breezes and temperate summer evenings we all love to tout, some days get so sweltering around here, you need to bring in some reinforcements. That’s where strategically chosen beverages come in – from heroic local staples (How do breweries outside Maine even make beer in the summer without wild blueberries?) to historic institutions (Yes, Moxie with ice cream is a thing) and spiked lemonades mingled with every fruit under the sun. When you want cool down in a hurry, these are the drinks to reach for.

Lime Rickeys from The Goldenrod in York Beach. Photo courtesy of The Goldenrod

Lime Rickeys

This classic bubbly New England cooler is named for its creator, Colonel Joseph Rickey. His preferred drink – bourbon or whiskey, seltzer water, and lemon over ice – caught on in post-Civil War Washington, D.C. Since then, the lemon has been replaced by a lime, and New York has since embraced it with cherry syrup, while we in New England tend to take ours with raspberry syrup (or no syrup at all), thank you very much. Its non-alcoholic version became a soda fountain mainstay – and still is at retro spots like the soon-to-reopen Vena’s Fizz in Portland. There, it’s gussied up with blackberry, blueberry, cherry or raspberry flavors. And The Goldenrod in York Beach pours an original version, as well as a special that adds a scoop of raspberry lime sorbet on top.

Photo by Medium Phormat Photography

Blueberry beer

Plenty of brewers (including some outside of Maine) claim to have invented the first blueberry beer, but Maine brewers – from Shipyard and Allagash in Portland to Island Dog Brewery in South Portland and Maine Beer Co. in Freeport – are certain they make it best. And almost everyone credits their access to wild Maine blueberries (as well as their own brewing prowess, of course). Those berries add a subtle fruitiness that doesn’t fight with other elements of the beer like wheat or, in Maine Beer’s case, oats. “It’s been around since the start of the company,” Emma Downey, general manager of the South Portland location of Sea Dog Brewing, says of its Blue Paw wheat ale. “And even though it’s fruity, it isn’t too sweet and is definitely refreshing, thanks to the nice sharp taste of Maine blueberries.”

A rum bucket at The Pier Patio Pub in Old Orchard Beach. Photo courtesy of Old Orchard Beach Pier

Rum punch


There’s no sugar-coating it: buckets full of rum punch aren’t subtle, and they aren’t messing around. But boy, can they be fun. The high-octane, fruity libation has become something of a summer tradition in Old Orchard Beach both at the Pier Patio Pub and The Brunswick, where the bar serves upwards of 10,000 of its Voodoo Bucket (a mix of flavored rums – banana, coconut, pineapple and mango – are splashed with orange, cranberry and pineapple juices) on its oceanfront patio every season. Jones Landing on Peaks Island has picked up on the phenomenon, too. Likewise Three of Strong Spirits in Portland, where you can buy an elevated spin on the drink in a (relatively) demure bottle.

You can find Moxie floats at the annual Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls. Photo courtesy of Moxie Festival

Moxie floats

Odds are you either love or hate Moxie, the sweetly bitter soda that was invented in 1884 and crowned Maine’s official soft drink in 2005. Die-hard fans of the polarizing stuff shouldn’t miss The Moxie Festival that takes place every July in Lisbon – complete with chugging contests. And though Moxie has been harder to come by in restaurants in recent years, that festival is your best bet for trying Moxie floats and shakes. “You’ll definitely find them here at one of our local ice cream shops,” says Aline Strout, a co-coordinator of the festival. “Sometimes even McDonald’s will put out a Moxie float.” And the taste? Imagine the creaminess of vanilla ice cream cutting through the kick of something between a Coke and a Dr. Pepper.

Dragonfruit lemonade at Fairgrounds Pizza & Pub in Cornish. Photo courtesy of Fairgrounds Pizza & Pub

Boozy slushies and lemonades

These two drink types are almost interchangeable – at least in the hands of bartender-cum-mad alchemists Chris and Billy Anastasiadis, co-owners of Fairgrounds Pizza And Pub in Cornish. You never really do know what the two brothers are going to invent every day to serve, and neither do they. “We love coming up with a lot of crazy stuff,” Chri says. That could mean watermelon and blue raspberry with crushed ice (i.e. slushies), or dragonfruit lemonade over lots of ice cubes – all usually with alcohol unless ordered otherwise, and always with new flavor twists that are as refreshing as their temperature.

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who lives in Maine.

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