What better way to toast the 10th anniversary of Harvest on the Harbor than with a good cocktail?

Yes, Portland’s biggest food festival hits the double digits when it launches Oct. 17 with a series of “sustainable suppers” held at a half-dozen local restaurants. It will end on Oct. 22 with a self-guided “Harvest Crawl” to tasting rooms, retailers, bars and restaurants around Portland. In between there will be lots of events celebrating local food and drink, including the wildly popular Maine Lobster Chef of the Year event and the annual grand tasting, known this year as Flavors of Maine.

The newest addition to the lineup is also one of the most exciting. The Harvest Happy Hour, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Aura, celebrates the rise of craft distilling in Maine. For the first time, Maine’s 15 craft distilleries will be all in one spot, serving samples of their products as well as cocktails paired with local foods. The event costs $65, and proceeds will go to Full Plates Full Potential, an organization that is working to end childhood hunger in Maine.

The event is the brainchild of Stefanie Manning, one of the owners of the festival, and Constance Bodine and Ian Michaud of the Maine Distiller’s Guild. (Manning is also vice president of circulation and marketing at Maine Today Media.)

Manning said she thinks most people have no idea how much craft distilling has grown in Maine. Harvest on the Harbor, she said, could do the same thing for craft distillers that it did for craft brewers, who raised public awareness of their products through pouring samples at festival events. “I think it’s going to be one of the best events of the week,” she said.

Michaud, the head distiller at Liquid Riot, said Maine’s craft distilleries get a lot of attention from people who come here for the bustling craft beer scene, noting that Maine has become one of the top states for “beer tourism.”

“But I think there’s a much broader range of people who drink spirits and may not be interested in the whole beer scene, and may not be aware of the whole craft distillation movement,” he said.

Michaud said the Maine Distiller’s Guild is planning a marketing campaign with the slogan “Make Mine from Maine,” but in the meantime Harvest on the Harbor will be a good showcase for these Maine products, from absinthe to rye whiskey.

“If you are a spirits drinker,” he said, “it’s very likely your preferred spirit is available from a Maine producer.”

The Harvest Happy Hour will feature four tasting bars, each with a different theme, pairing styles of food with different types of spirits. At “Brown Goods and Bacon,” for example, whiskies and other aged liquors will be paired with a few food bites made with bacon. The other tasting bars will pair vodka with vegetable bites and cheese; gin and other liquors made with botanicals with smoked seafood; and specialty liquors, including rum and products such as Liquid Riot’s Bierschnaps (a high-proof spirit made from beer), with barbecue and pickled foods.

Christopher Mikesell, the chef at Aura, will be preparing all of the food with local ingredients that have been donated for the occasion.

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