You really appreciate the bar scene in Baltimore when you spend time in a city without one. Baltimore has most of your subtle shades of drinking needs covered.
Published: October 10, 2012
You really appreciate the bar scene in Baltimore when you spend time in a city without one. Take Philadelphia for example. The restaurant scene is top-notch, light years ahead of our own, but you can traverse entire neighborhoods before coming across a proper dive bar. What’s up with that? Thankfully that is most definitely not a problem here, where there may be more bars than stoplights. And not just divey crapholes either. We’ve got most of your subtle shades of drinking needs in stock.
Fun But Also With Booze
Creative Alliance at the Patterson
3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org
Still going strong as an entertainment and education space, or edutainment space, if you will (see what we did there?) the Creative Alliance’s schedule of events is always filled with art openings, variety acts, classes, exhibitions, concerts, parties, you name it. One helpful–some might even say key–component is the in-house bar. More of a drink kiosk, really, but pretty damn well-stocked, fast, with decent pours, and even decenter prices.
8 E. Preston St., (410) 244-1020, dionysusbar.com
Though this place has been stumbling a wee bit on the operations side recently, it’s still a trusty go-to spot in bar-starved Mount Vernon. The basement is a laid-back, neighborhoody bar with TVs and couches, the second floor a dining area, and the third floor an entertainment space that hosts a variety of special events and live entertainment.
The Windup Space
12 W. North Ave., (410) 244-8855, thewindupspace.com
A multi-purpose bar space that isn’t insufferable and actually works as a place to just get a drink, thanks in large part to excellent bartenders, but also to the balanced mix of events: live music, karaoke, movie nights, and even football on Sundays. It’s become a neighborhood foundation point, helping pave the way for Station North’s mini-resurgence.
Booze and Music
1 W. Eager St., (410) 547-0069, clubhippo.com
A Baltimore institution, and LGBT pillar, the Hippo is startlingly huge, and split into a lounge-y bar section in front and an enormous auditorium-like setup for shows. Reasonable drink prices and photo ops galore on weekends.
The Get Down
701 S. Bond St., (443) 708-3564, getdownbaltimore.com
An actual dance club smack in the middle of bar country (Fells Point). Neato wall of lights but not a whole lot of room to dance. After 10 p.m., especially on weekends, prepare to be swallowed up by a throng of sweaty bodies.
The Horse You Came In On
1626 Thames Street, (410) 327-8111, thehorsebaltimore.com
Self-proclaimed “America’s Oldest Saloon,” the Horse has transformed from gritty neighborhood drinkery to live rock bar, with acts seven days a week. An extra long happy hour (2-7 p.m.) with good food and drink specials, and dance music on Wednesdays that draws an extra drunk, extra huge crowd, with lines out the door pretty much all night.
133 W. North Ave., (410) 545-0444; 30 Market Place, (410) 962-5556; joesquared.com
Well entrenched in Station North, and now sporting a presence downtown at Power Plant Live!, Joe Squared is known for pizza and music. Lots of music. As in whoever books the incredible variety and number of acts has got to be working 24-7 and have crazy connects. And there’s never a cover. Good drink specials, lots of kinds of rum.
4 Market Place, Power Plant Live, (443) 468-5308, mosaic-baltimore.com
This nightclub’s décor is swanky, staff well-groomed, patrons well-heeled, security well-swolled, and bottles well-popped. Cover and drink prices aren’t exactly lowball, but not outrageous either, and people are usually pretty friendly. DJs are a bit of a crapshoot, but you’re not really going for the music, are you now?
719 S. Broadway, (410) 563-4547
Not actually a club, really just a bar that tends to play club music, although the back half is cleared out to form a dance floor. Despite the high bpm count and slightly Euro-trash vibe, we always have a good time here.
Booze and Sports
401 W. Pratt St., (443) 573-8777
It’s actually in the first floor of the downtown Hilton, which might scare off most sports bar folk, but the location can’t be beat. It’s like right across the street from Camden Yards, with a ton of outdoor seating right on Eutaw Street. Inside it’s gorgeous, cavernous, with an extremely long bar and tons of TVs. But there are also little semi-private rooms and nooks, all with their own TVs, perfect to watching the game, particularly NFL, if you’re out with a group of friends. Make sure you deposit your paycheck first though, cuz it ain’t cheap.
Liam Finn’s Alehouse
22 W. North Ave., (443) 956-1702, pintsizepub.com
A proper Irish bar, complete with Irish bartender, and soccer–oops, sorry–football on the screens. It even has its own sponsored club. Fundraisers for that club include pong tourneys (pong’s a sport, right?). Activities include karaoke, live music, special events, and a late night happy hour.
Looney’s Pub Canton
2900 O’Donnell St., (410) 675-9235, looneyspubmd.com
The biggest bar in Canton, it’s sorta like your bro buddy’s man cave on steroids—pool, flip cup, and such for those feeling active, and TVs in every corner for the less motivated. Excellent wings and all-around decent food. Discounts for some local social sports league participants and lots of outdoor seating as well.
Mother’s Federal Hill Grille
1113 S. Charles St., (410) 244-8686, mothersgrille.com
Decried by many as too rowdy and too crowded, especially during football season, it’s true that this place is a roiling stew of purple insanity during games. Mother’s cavernous interior features multiple bars and, of course, a bajillion TVs, but there’s also a big patio area that provides al fresco mayhem.
520 Washington Blvd., (410) 752-1784, picklespub.com
Directly across the street from Camden Yards, perfect for pre-gaming with a huge crowd on the sidewalk out front, or for leaving the game early in disgust, or even after a come from behind extra inning win, which we’ve been seeing more and more of lately, thank you very much. Good food (especially the crab pretzel), cheap beers, fun crowd, general good times. Slow service on game days, though.
Mostly Just Booze
1919 E. Fleet St.
A standard corner bar that’s just far enough away from the drunken hordes to feel homey, but still can get crowded as hell with hard partyers. There’s a pool table, bands sometimes, plus sporadic free buffets featuring really good homemade-by-the-owners food (including some of the best chili verde we’ve ever had), mostly during post-season Ravens games. It’s that kind of bar.
1939 Fleet St., (410) 276-2044, alemarys.com
Not quite Fells Point but close, a good spot for grabbing a quick drink before heading home, which is Baltimore code for getting trashed on a weekday. Great food, excellent weekly specials, including a burger and beer special on Monday, noteworthy for the excellent burger. The kind of place where mimosas come in pint glasses (good brunch too). Actually, the kind of place where BEERmosas come in pint glasses (OJ and beer, duh). An astounding array of branded merch for sale here, for some reason.
Bond Street Social
901 S. Bond St., (443) 449-6243, bondstreetsocial.com
Ginormous gathering spot for the “get dressed up to get fucked up” crowd, with a shitload of outdoor seating, cool gas fireplaces, attractive interior, and interesting libations like liquid nitrogen martinis. Pricey but decent upscale pub grub, and “social” drinks that come in units of about a half gallon–no, seriously, 80 ounces of cocktail–for $50, not a bad deal if you do the math actually.
1600 Thames St., (410) 276-9719
If you need a break from the touristy, bar crawly masses that typically roam the cobblestones of Fells Point, Duda’s is for sure the spot. Great service headed up by Jimmy, who is the man, as well as significantly above par food, with hotly anticipated daily deals (Tuesday’s special is crab cakes, go!). There are a few outside tables that make for great people watching. A particular form of entertainment, due to Duda’s being situated on a corner, is watching ladies in high heels try to navigate the aforementioned cobblestones, drunk.
Mount Royal Tavern
1204 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 669-6686)
The Dirt Church has beautiful frescoes on the ceiling, now muted from years of cigarette smoke, cheap drinks, big pours, surprisingly decent pizza, and an fairly broad range of demographics, even though it’s located right in the midst of the Maryland Institute College of Art. Time was you could get plastered for less than the cost of the cab ride to get there, but things change. Still cheaper than most places though. RIP Mick.
The Wharf Rat
801 South Ann St., (410) 267-8304, thewharfrat.com
A great little neighborhood joint with a full-on nautically-themed interior, lots of brews on tap, decent to very good food, two bars, a pool table, even a fireplace, and lots of tables. Oh and like many of the older buildings in the neighborhood (this one is from the 18th century), it’s supposedly haunted.
13.5% Wine Bar
1117 W 36th St., (410) 889-1064, 13.5winebar.com
A wine bar that almost feels like a normal bar—who are we kidding, it’s too pretty to be a bar bar, at least in this town—13.5 has carved out a niche in Hampden as a hang out, though you won’t see too many rounds of shots being thrown back at this particular establishment. Slightly fancy, is what we’re trying to say. Also a creative menu and very good food, which helps extend your wine consuming experience.
21 N. Eutaw St., (410) 545-5112, alewifebaltimore.com
This downtown gastropub near the Hippodrome is home to a staggering rotating draft beer selection of both international and regional domestic rarities. It’s not quite on the scale of Max’s say, but definitely a hit list of unique brews. Alewife also features knowledgeable, fast bartenders, well-made cocktails, and an innovative, well executed menu, but it can get quite crowded during theater season.
B&O American Brasserie
2 N. Charles St., (443) 692-6172, www.bandorestaurant.com
It’s a restaurant, yes, but the bar deserves special mention. It’s beautiful, spacious, with excellent, well-conceived original cocktails, lots of special events (usually pairing their wares with food from the kitchen), and absurd happy hour specials, namely $3 wines and sparklings by the glass.
The Brewer’s Art
1106 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9310, thebrewersart.com
Known for their potent (read: seriously drunkening) Belgian-style house-brewed ales, Brewer’s has three different areas to suit your mood. Upstairs you’ll find a bright, fancy-ish bar and a pretty dining room. Downstairs, you’ll descend into a dark catacomb-like area for serious drinking and hooking up. Moderately discounted beer during happy hour, which is all day Sunday.
737 S. Broadway, (410) 675-6297, maxs.com
Boasting the largest selection of beer in Maryland, Max’s is a huge bar lined with a zillion taps. And the bartenders really do know at least a bit about every one of them. Despite its size, Max’s can get uncomfortably crowded. The upstairs satellite bar is usually not as bad.
807 S. Broadway, (443) 438-3296, ryebaltimore.com
From the same guys that brought shmancified hot dogs to Fells Point at Stuggy’s, Rye specializes in housemade flavorings, classic and underappreciated old-timey liquors, and carefully constructed original cocktails. Excellent bartenders, and a good if somewhat limited menu for snacking.
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