Allen’s Coffee Brandy Tastes Better Out of a Collectible Lighthouse Bottle

The maker of Maine’s favorite coffee liqueur is releasing six beacon-shaped bottles — the latest, Petit Manan Light.

Allen’s Coffee Brandy Taste Better Out of a Collectible Lighthouse Bottle
By Will Grunewald
Photographed by Clayton Simoncic
From our November 2022 issue

Lighthouses and Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy — a couple of Maine icons, with their rightful place in the pantheon alongside lobsters, pine cones, and whoopie pies. It’s a status backed up by stats: the 65 lighthouses standing sentinel up and down the coast are visited by millions of people every year, and Allen’s was the most popular spirit in the state for decades, presently trailing only nationwide top seller Tito’s vodka. So it was that execs at the Massachusetts company behind Allen’s thought to pour their coffee brandy into lighthouses, which, anyway, are a more natural bottle shape than lobsters are.

Typically, Allen’s comes in clear plastic, in sizes ranging from hip flask to handle. The first ceramic bottle, a 750-milliliter model of Lubec’s candy-striped West Quoddy Head Light, hit shelves two years ago, followed by South Portland’s Greek Revival–style Bug Light and then, a few months ago, Steuben’s stoic, island-bound Petit Manan Light. The company plans to stop at six in the series, each run limited to no more than 5,600 bottles, only available at liquor retailers in Maine. The next one should come out in early 2023, although the marketing department is tight-lipped about which lighthouse it will be.

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There’s no sure reason why Allen’s, around since the ’60s, found such a loyal following in Maine. Elsewhere, it never caught on the same way. Lobstermen, the story goes, were early adopters, splashing Allen’s into predawn coffees. Today, it’s a cult favorite in the backwoods, and fancified Portland cocktail bars aren’t above putting it in an espresso martini. Perhaps the most convincing explanation for local demand, ultimately, is that Mainers are thrifty and Allen’s is both boozier and cheaper than Kahlua (although the commemorative bottles come with an upcharge — $29.99 versus $11.99 for a same-size plastic bottle). Anyone out for all six lighthouses — and such collectors have been posting their finds on social media — best not miss a release, because the original molds are destroyed after each run, decommissioned like many a lighthouse before them.

Petit Manan bottles of Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy will likely still be in stores until the holidays. Follow Allen’s on Instagram for updates on upcoming releases.


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Down East Magazine, November 2022