Thursday, May 16, 2013

You Can't Buy It at BevMo...

I've been in Maine only a few weeks a year since about 1980, and it seems I've missed a few things. Like the inexorable rise of Allen's Coffee Brandy, which for the past twenty years has been the best-selling alchoholic beverage in the state, and nowhere else. My cousin Jim mentioned the phenomenon in passing, and then I started noticing it everywhere, like at the convenience store attached to the local gas station in rural Poland.

Allen's turned up again in the novel I was reading on the plane home, Maine-author Elizabeth Hand's excellent "Generation Loss." To wit:

Generation Loss: A Novel (Hand, Elizabeth)

- Your Highlight on Page 96 | Location 1812-1820 | Added on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 9:27:05 PM

“What’s with all the coffee brandy?” I asked. “Looks like Suze is stockpiling the stuff.”

“That’s Allen’s Coffee Brandy, the Maine drug of choice. It’s lethal—70 proof. That’s how a lot of people up here get their Vitamin D—they mix it with milk and get an extra buzz from the caffeine. Kills more people than heroin does.”


"I’m talking about guys who live in old school buses and survive on blocks of government cheese.”

“And Allen’s Coffee Brandy.”

“And Allen’s Coffee Brandy,” Gryffin agreed. “Old Toby, now, he’s just a few steps ahead of them—he lives on rum and Moxie."

A simple Google search brought confirmation from an unimpeachable source.

Also this, from a Maine-based food blog, uniting all the crucial DownEast food items. Key line: "I don’t think I’ve ever been to a party in a gravel pit where there hasn’t been at least one handle of Allen’s Coffee Brandy being poured into cartons of milk."