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Colleen Katana

Colleen Katana is a romance novelist by day and a cocktail reviewer by night. She lives in Portland where she can usually be found hunched over her laptop, wearing fabulous (albeit sometimes impractical) shoes. Instagram: katanacollins

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Posted: November 20, 2017

You can’t go wrong with whiskey and oysters at King Eider’s Pub

Written by: Colleen Katana
King Eider's Pub is on Damariscotta's main drag. Photos by Colleen Katana

King Eider’s Pub is on Damariscotta’s main drag.
Photos by Colleen Katana

On a cold, blustery November day, a glass of whiskey or a boozy, hot coffee is just what the doctor ordered.

Perhaps for liability purposes I should state, I am not a doctor, but I’ve had my fair share of whiskey and can attest to its healing powers.

King Eider’s pub is a haven for anyone who wants to drink like the Irish do. It is nestled right in the center of Damariscotta’s main strip, and there are three separate areas to drink (or dine) in.

The ground level houses the pub. Brick walls surround you, locals’ handmade mugs hang from iron hooks on the beams of the ceiling for those regulars who wish have their own drinking vessel ready to rock, and cherry floors complete the warm feel. You can also climb the stairs up to the oyster bar where delicious, local oysters come in many different forms. Or, venture a bit higher upstairs to the dining area, offering a slightly quieter atmosphere. Wherever you decide to nestle in for the day, each area of King Eider’s has the full menu available.

Despite traveling up there for a drink in the cold, offseason, it was rather busy. But with three dining areas, my party didn’t have to wait too long for a booth to open up. To start, I ordered the King Eider Coffee ($9) to warm myself up. They have several alcoholic coffee drinks to choose from, but I had to go with the one that was named after the pub. What better way to get a feel for what it’s all about? It consisted of Tia Maria (coffee liqueur), dark crème de cacao and Grand Marnier, of course, topped with whipped cream.

I’ll admit, that Grand Marnier had me skeptical. Orange flavored liqueur in coffee? However, it blended surprising well and the light citrus added a nice acidity and balanced out the Tia Maria. Lots of bars offer versions of Irish coffees. It runs the risk of becoming boring and, more often than not, is far too sweet. It’s such an easy drink to make, I’ve found that many bars phone it in. But it was clear that King Eider’s took pride in this concoction and created a well-balanced, non-diabetes-inducing hot beverage.

The King Eider Coffee ($9) is made with Tia Maria, dark crème de cacao and Grand Marnier.

The King Eider Coffee ($9) is made with Tia Maria, dark crème de cacao and Grand Marnier.

Next, we went a little wild with the whiskey and bourbon tastings (and thank goodness we had a designated driver with us). The first one we tried was the Wiggly Bridge Baby Bourbon ($11). Distilled down in York, I had to give this a try, and I have to say, it’s extremely well extremely done. It was so smooth and went down easily with no burn at all.

Next up was the W.L. Weller Antique 107 ($12). Apparently, this is considered a rare and collectible bottle, according to the menu. It was a richer, darker amber color than the other whiskeys and had an amazing charred wood smokiness to it; I had to make sure I hadn’t sprouted hair on my chest after the first sip. Despite its bold flavor, it also managed to maintain that token bourbon sweetness. Lastly, we tried the Highland Park 12 Year ($11) — also delicious, but not nearly as strong a whiskey as the Weller Antique. Ideally, we should have started the tasting with Highland Park. It was a more mellow drink, with notes of honey and cedar.

BBQ Bacon Oysters is one of several preparations of the Damariscotta River jewel.

BBQ Bacon Oysters is one of several preparations of the Damariscotta River jewel.

Lastly, we couldn’t leave without at least trying one of the oyster dishes. The Damariscotta River boasts some of the world’s best oysters, and with so many different options available, from raw to Oysters Rockefeller to skillet roasted, we asked our server for her opinion. We were told to try the BBQ Bacon Oysters ($19). Yes, you heard that right. For the second time that afternoon, I was highly skeptical. It sounded like a crime against oysters. But the dish came out, and it was spectacular. Easily the best cooked oyster dish I’ve ever had. They’re baked right in the shell and drowned in barbecue sauce with large, meaty cuts of bacon. The squeeze of lemon made them even better. Even now, as I write this, remembering back on them, my mouth is watering.

All in all, King Eider’s Pub is concocting fresh, inspired recipes and cocktails. Whoever created its unique menu deserves some high praise. It’s obvious why there’s always a crowd in this historical, little pub. With its massive, creative drink list — everything from craft cocktails to local beers, bourbons, and wine — there wasn’t a single thing we tried that wasn’t delicious. My only regret has nothing to do with them, only that the King Eider’s Coffee doesn’t pair well with BBQ Bacon Oysters.


King Eider’s Pub

WHERE: 2 Elm St., Damariscotta
PHONE: 563-6008
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
BOTTOM LINE: “Give me oysters and beer for dinner every day of the year, and I’ll be fine …” Well, in my opinion, Jimmy Buffet had it half right. Switch out that beer for whiskey, and be sure to get both from King Eider’s Pub. This place is a must-visit. And even though I live an hour away, I am certainly going to be a repeat visitor, if for no other reason than to eat those BBQ Bacon Oysters.

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