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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: December 15, 2017

Get off the highway and hit up happy hour at Muddy Rudder

Written by: Colleen Katana
The Muddy Rudder is a familiar site from the highway. Photos by Colleen Katana

The Muddy Rudder is a familiar site from the highway.
Photos by Colleen Katana

You’ve probably heard of — or at least seen — the Muddy Rudder, perched on Route 1 in Yarmouth in clear view of cars on the highway. But have you ever gotten off and gone in?

If you’ve passed it over thinking it was the sort of place your grandparents would go for dinner at 4 p.m. and not where you’d meet friends for happy hour, you should reconsider. The Muddy Rudder may be quiet, but it’s still a solid choice for a fantastic cocktail.

Yes, OK, it’s a bit monochromatic with its various green carpets and green painted walls. And the bottom half of the bar counter is green, as are the dining tables. You’re not likely find yourself shoulder to shoulder with a hip Maine crowd. And sure, you’re not going to hear any cool new indie bands on the radio. But if you can stomach the endless Christmas music, I think you’ll find this bar makes for a really nice evening out.

The bar at Muddy Rudder on Route 1 in Yarmouth.

The bar at Muddy Rudder on Route 1 in Yarmouth.

The holiday décor is tasteful and understated with simple red ribbons, poinsettias, holiday lights and a classically decorated tree. And, I have to say, it complemented that aforementioned green décor very well. At least for this time of year, the green walls and carpet work. I’ll let you know if I feel the same come July.

The cocktail list was impressive. Creative spins on classics included the Wicked Maple Whiskey Smash ($10) with Chadwick’s maple craft whiskey, maple syrup, blueberries, fresh rosemary, fresh lemon juice and club soda, and the Maine-mosa ($12), made with Hardshore gin, champagne, elderflower liquor, cranberry juice, fresh lemon and simple syrup. The cocktail list was creative and appropriate for winter and the use of maple and cranberry as ingredients was notable and effective.

Mixed drinks are $3.50 at Muddy Rudder's daily happy hour.

Mixed drinks are $3.50 at Muddy Rudder’s daily happy hour.

My favorite drink was the Spiced & Stormy ($10). It was a simple mixture of Queequeg spiced rum, Capt’n Eli’s ginger beer and lime. Though it was simple in its creation, the spiced rum and ginger beer complemented each other perfectly and the splash of lime was just enough to add a pop of citrus to the flavor.

Beyond the creative cocktails, there was a mix of craft beers and domestic staples on tap, ranging from Bud Light to Newburyport Maritime Lager to Sebago’s Slick Nick Long Winter Ale.

As with the many amazing happy hours I’ve discovered in the area, Muddy Rudder’s specials did not disappoint. Every day from 3-6 p.m., all bottled and draft beers are $3.50 and house wines are $4. Single-liquor well drinks are $3.50, and for only $4.50, you can get well martinis and multi-liquor drinks.

At $6, the calamari is a great deal at happy hour.

At $6, the calamari is a great deal at happy hour.

Not enough to pull you in the door? Is the older clientele’s early dinner still deterring you? Well, the Muddy Rudder sweetens the pot with amazing appetizer specials during happy hour, including $5 spinach and artichoke dip, $5.50 Rudder Chips and pork pot stickers, $6 poutine and — what I ordered — calamari. Usually $10.95, it’s a great deal at only $6 and pretty tasty (although they could have eased up on the Asian chili sauce).

So, here’s the thing, I think a lot of people have written The Rudder (as locals call it) off. And I get why. Once upon a time, it was the fanciest schmanciest place in town where locals would dress up in their nicest L.L. Bean apparel and come out for a high-end dinner. These days, not so much, but the Muddy Rudder is worth a second look, and for me, a second visit.

The Muddy Rudder

WHERE: 1335 Route 1
PHONE: (207) 846-3082
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
AMENITIES: Happy hour 3-6 p.m. daily, TV at the bar, outdoor seating in the summer, water view, dock, lots of parking, full menu at the bar, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
BOTTOM LINE: With all the trendy new bars popping up, people seem to be forgetting about Muddy Rudder. However, its cocktail list is creative, seasonal and delicious, and the happy hour deals are good enough to entice you to enter those doors, at the very least, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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