Walking into The Drouthy Bear is like coming home to your own neighborhood bar — even if you live nowhere near the picturesque coastal town of Camden. This adorable pub is located on Elm Street, the town’s main drag, and within a few steps inside, I fully expected to see Ted Danson behind the bar, wiping down a pint glass, and a pretentious psychiatrist sipping sherry in the corner.
While no one knew my name or shouted “Norm!” as the man behind me entered, I was immediately greeted by our bartender with a large smile and a warm hello. The first thing I noticed, as I stared slack-jawed at the stocked bottles behind the bar, was the extensive whiskey and scotch collection. Its website touts over 70 single malts and whiskeys from around the world, however when I asked the bartender, I was told it was currently over 150.
To put it simply, it is a whiskey lover’s dream.
Peeking out from behind some of the bottles was a vaguely familiar black bottle. Laphroaig 25 is a rare scotch that I’ve never even seen at another bar before. It retails for over $500 a bottle, and here at The Drouthy Bear, it costs $90 a pour. Needless to say, I didn’t try that one. I did, however, try a small pour of the Port Charlotte Islay Single Malt. Holy peated deliciousness. Like most Islays, each sip was filled with the signature smoky peat of the region, however, with this scotch, it was balanced and had end notes of creamy vanilla to counter the strong peat, which with some scotch, can be overbearing.
In addition to the impressive whiskey and scotch collection, The Drouthy Bear has an incredible cocktail list, as well as an extensive beer collection featuring several craft beers I had never heard of, including the crisp and delicious Wheat ‘N’ Potatoes from Banded Horn Brewing in Biddeford.
Two of the most notable cocktails were the Bramble ($10), which had Hendrick’s Gin, blueberries, blackberries and soda water. It was refreshing and fruity (without being too sweet), while retaining the juniper notes of the gin. The Relapse (also $10) was made with Goslings Rum, fresh lemon, maple syrup and ginger bitters. With these unique blend of flavors, I was surprised that they worked so well. It was cool and light and could easily be just as delicious served hot for a winter drink as it was refreshing as a summer drink on ice.
Great drinks and friendly service aren’t the only notable traits of The Drouthy Bear. The cute space was once a historic home that owners Andrew and Shannon Stewart renovated into the bar. Perhaps that’s what gives it its cozy feel. As you wander in the entrance, you’re met with the bar immediately on your right. The room horseshoes around and curves into several different areas to drink or eat. There is also an outdoor patio, both in the front and the back, to embrace those gorgeous summer days and nights. Inside, you’ll find a fireplace for when those balmy nights turn into crisp winters and stacks of board games to keep yourself busy.
According to the website, Andrew Stewart was born in Scotland and spent much of his childhood within the local pubs. It was only natural that he wanted to create a local pub that payed homage to Scottish, Irish and British pub culture as well as the food. It only takes a few minutes to see the warmth, love and sense of community here at The Drouthy Bear. With trivia night every Tuesday, traditional live music every Wednesday and afternoon tea every day between 2 and 4 p.m., it’s clear that this pub is great for families and patrons of all ages, locals and vacationers alike. It has a bit of something for everyone.
WHERE: 50 Elm St., Camden
PHONE: (207) 236-BEAR
HOURS: 11 a.m. “ ‘til we want to go home,” according to the website, (usually until at least 10:30 p.m., earlier or later depending on business) Tuesday through Saturday
AMENITIES: Lunch, dinner, Tuesday night trivia, live music Wednesday, indoor seating, outdoor seating, back outdoor patio
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No
BOTTOM LINE: The Drouthy Bear isn’t a place to be missed. If you are in the Camden area, I highly recommend popping in for a pint, a shot, dinner, a cocktail — anything, really. For such a small, tourist-driven town, The Drouthy Bear maintains a feel for the locals, yet welcomes everyone. They have truly refined what they do, and they do it well. Cozy and friendly, the atmosphere is perfect for families as well as adults looking for a fun night. The bottom line is simply: Go there.