In defense of Baltimore bars
Here at Midnight Sun, we spend a lot of time being critical of Baltimore bars. That's why I asked guest columnist Patti to write a post defending Baltimore bars. Take it away, Patti:
About two years ago, I went to the Mt. Royal Tavern. When I returned one Sunday last November, three of the four strangers who had been in the bar during my previous trip were sitting in the same seats (probably drinking the same drink).
Sad? Maybe a little, given that it was before noon on both occasions. But mostly just charming in that odd, slightly disturbing way that Baltimore does so well.
I've lived in Chicago and spent more than my share of 20-dollar bills on quasi-martinis in Manhattan. I've sampled some of the finest artisanal cocktails that San Francisco and Portland Oregon have to offer. I've downed beer from boots in Madison and let les bons temps roulez in New Orleans.
In short, I consider myself something of a bar connoisseur, at least in the continental U.S. And yet, I can state without any equivocation that Baltimore is hands down the best bar town ...
Baltimore doesn’t have the flash and pizazz that make a lot of cities seem like obvious front-runners. But what we've got is genuine and unpretentious.
The bars with great beer don't overcharge, the bars with amazing infusions and inventive cocktail programs don't condescend, and the bars with loud music, cramped dance floors and 20-somethings chain smoking out front don't pretend to be something they're not.
Some people may disagree with me because other towns have more eye candy. But in my experience, the people at those bars are trying too hard, and at the end of the night, probably didn’t have as much fun as we do.
A few nights ago, I stopped by Nevins on Cross Street. Strangers were singing with each other. I joined them. We sounded terrible, and no one cared. To me, that is the essence of the Baltimore bar scene.
We aren't the fanciest or the most innovative. Our dives aren't even the dive-iest (I believe Detroit gets that distinction). But Captain Larry's is like visiting a friend's house, Bad Decisions will make a drink out of bacon and Manwich, and no one does wine selection and prices like the Wine Market.
Add to that that the top bar in America (Brewer's Art), a plethora of shuffleboard tables, and such gems as Cat's Eye Pub, Peter's Inn, Woodberry Kitchen and Muggsy's. There is no doubt in my mind that Baltimore bars are unrivaled.
(Baltimore Sun photo of Peter's Inn by Kenneth K. Lam)