Bartender Wind Tracy, left, and owner Josh Hixson of 40 Paper in Camden preparing their winning cocktail, "Root & Smoke."
Umbrellas at the Academe table
Judges, from left: Greg Bell of The Spotted Pig in NYC; Andrew Volk of Portland Hunt & Alpine Club; Susan Axelrod of MaineToday.com
"Vitamin D" cocktail from Natalie's at The Camden Harbour Inn.
Cocktail ingredients at The Salt Exchange table.
El Rayo's table display
The Maine Pinetini from Natalie's at The Camden Harbour Inn
Sponsor Double Cross Vodka was featured in many of the cocktails
Shanna O'Hea of Academe at The Kennebunk Inn
"Farmer" Patrick Morang at the David's "lemonade stand"
The judges chose 40 Paper's "Root & Smoke" cocktail as the winner.
Drink cards at the 40 Paper bar
Bartenders from El Rayo Cantina
Bartender Seth Knowlton, right, of The Camden Harbour Inn
The Portland Pig cocktail from The Salt Exchange
Azure Cafe's table
DiMillo's gingery cocktail.
The Standard cocktail from Sonny's Restaurant
Christina Klein and Spencer Albee at the Sonny's bar station
The Academe tiki bar was popular.
Brian O'Hea of Academe at The Kennebunk Inn with the Tropic Thunder Cocktail
Sea Spice cocktail from Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth
The Academe tiki bar in full swing
Meringue topped dessert jars from Academe at The Kennebunk Inn
The bartender from Fuel in Lewiston prepares her Beet Martini
Pastry chefs from Camden Harbour Inn at work on their dessert: lemongrass mousse with blueberry compote.
The dessert by Ilma Lopez of Piccolo: Allagash Black Mousse, Matt's Coffee caramel and pepper meringue
Camden Harbour Inn Executive Chefs Chris Long and Shelby Stevens
Camden Harbour Inn Pastry Chef Jason Sturdivant, left, and an assistant.
Coconut Tres Leches Cake from El Rayo Taqueria
From left: Natalie's at the Camden Harbour Inn Executive Chefs Chris Long and Shelby Stevens; inn owner Raymond Brunyanszki and friend with the DownEast "Best of Maine" Cocktail winner - the Maine Pinetini
S'mores desserts from Standard Baking Co.
Piccolo pastry chef Ilma Lopez, right, and assistant working on their dessert.
Chef David Turin of David's restaurants with his Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich, which won the Dessert competition for the second year in a row.
Ingredients for the "Vitamin D" cocktail at one of the Natalie's stations
The Dr's Orders cocktail from El Rayo Cantina
Rhubarb-Raspberry Lemonade from David's Monument Square
Chocolate Caramel dessert from Old Port Sea Grill
Photos by Susan Axelrod
The service bays of Prime Mercedes Benz in Scarborough were once again transformed into an exciting, nightclub-like event space for last night’s Signature Event, the cocktail and dessert competition that caps off Maine Restaurant Week. Bartenders, chefs and pastry chefs got especially creative this year, with drinks featuring pine, Asian spices, beets, harissa-infused olive oil and, naturally, bacon. The People’s Choice cocktail winner was newcomer Top of the East in Portland, with Snow White’s Poison: vodka, Maine apple cider, pear and lemon juices, topped with a coconut-apple foam. The editors of DownEast magazine chose a “Best of Maine” winner — the Maine Pinetini created by Executive Chefs Shelby and Chris Long of Camden Harbour Inn. It was a heady mix of clementine juice, Canton ginger liqueur and cardamon syrup, capped with a swirl of pine-scented foam.
For the second year in a row, chef David Turin of David’s won the dessert prize, this year with an adult take on the ice cream sandwich: brownie, vanilla ice cream and bananas flambeed in rum.
I had the good fortune to be on the judging panel for the cocktail competition, with a couple of real pros: Greg Bell of The Spotted Pig in New York City and Andrew Volk of Portland Hunt & Alpine Club in Portland. We deliberated long and hard – initially narrowing our picks down to four, then going back for follow-up tastes before choosing the Root & Smoke cocktail from 40 Paper in Camden. It was intense and complex, with a beet-ginger shrub base, smoky Illegal Repesado mescal, brown sugar syrup, lime juice, grapefruit and Angostura bitters and Maine Root ginger beer.
As the saying goes: it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.