After spending the holidays indulging on food and drink, many will move on to observing “Drynuary” or “Dry January,” the practice of abstaining from alcohol. But with so many excellent cocktail dens popping up in Baltimore, we’re finding it hard not to sip. Here are 10 top spots in Baltimore for enjoying a little liquid sustenance when Drynuary isn’t a resolution.
801 E. Fort Ave., 443.708.1675
Jeff Cahill’s “little corner bar that could” has everything anyone could want in a neighborhood joint: A homey setting complete with cushy couches in the back, a charismatic owner making the rounds, and of course tasty drinks with fun names like “Stay Classy” and “We Won’t Name a Drink After You.” Regulars also swear by bites including the rosemary popcorn, BBQ pulled pork and “Jeff’s Attitude Adjustment,” a bread pudding doused in Nutella.
The Bluebird Cocktail Room
3600 Hickory Ave., 3rd Floor, 667.303.3263
This relatively new kid on the block has been attracting locals since it opened in 2017, and for good reason. Inside, the elegant space anchored by a stunning azure bar channels the 1920s and the owner’s love of literature (the bar’s name is a reference to a Charles Bukowski poem). Drinks tap that vibe, too, with classics like the gin rickey, a favorite of one-time Baltimore resident F. Scott Fitzgerald, along with newer concoctions, expertly mixed and poured over crystal clear ice cut from a single massive block.
31 E. Cross St., 443.438.4039
Contrary to its name, this classy spot doesn’t take bets. But if it did, drinkers would win big on well-crafted cocktails and a food menu to match. Credit for the former goes to Ryan Sparks, of The Brewer’s Art and Of Love and Regret, who set up the beverage program, with Dan Braganca now taking the lead. A special treat you won’t find anywhere else in the world (yes, the world)? Chartreuse Episcopal on draft, a blend of green and yellow Chartreuse.
400 International Drive, 29th Floor, 443.343.8200
Perched at the top of the Four Seasons Hotel, this swanky spot with a dress code offers a glimpse of the Gilded Age and one of the best views in the city. Cocktail connoisseurs also indulge at not one but two bars, where bartenders mix classic and trend-setting drinks and pour from an extensive whiskey collection.
1724 N. Charles St., 410.727.8815
For more than 50 years, this Station North club has been a true Charm City mainstay, complete with an intriguing history (it was once the rowdiest bar in town) and a legendary owner known for her colorful swearing. Today, Club Charles is a favorite with residents (among them Baltimore filmmaker John Waters), who flock to the den to drink in the local color along with their drink of choice.
The Elk Room
1010 Fleet St., 410.244.5830
The Atlas Restaurant Group’s speakeasy offers handsome lodge-like digs with a retro vibe. But it’s not all style; there’s plenty of substance here, too. The lauded bar program has earned the Elk Room a spot on Esquire magazine’s 2018 Best Bars in America list. The menu changes often, but the attention to detail and care that go into each recipe mean drinkers can’t go wrong with either a classic or something made to order.
The Owl Bar
1 E. Chase St., 410.347.0888
Located inside the historic 1903 Belvedere building, this hidden-away spot hasn’t changed much since the days of F. Scott Fitzgerald, when the “Great Gatsby” author came here to seek advice about his wife Zelda’s mental illness from “the sage of Baltimore” himself, H.L. Mencken. Sure, now visitors can munch on brick-oven pizzas and sliders, but they can also order classic drinks and imagine the great writers sitting next to them at the same bar.
The Regal Beagle
3123 Elliott St., 410.878.6542
As Jack’s Bistro, this spot was known for its creative takes on comfort foods, drawing devoted locals and chefs after hours. That neighborhood vibe continues in the locale’s new incarnation as The Regal Beagle, an ode to the 1970s-1980s sitcom, “Three’s Company,” starring John Ritter. While the show’s roommates Jack, Janet and Chrissy would feel at home here, this IRL version is far from its retro namesake. The bar program run by Bookmakers alum Ryan Sparks has fans ordering “classic-ish” pours like Bees Knees and tiki throwbacks like the potent Zombie Killer that comes with a limit of two orders per person.
Rye Street Tavern
225 E. Cromwell St., 443.662.8000
With critically acclaimed dishes, Andrew Carmellini’s glam restaurant is rightly helping to open up the Port Covington neighborhood. But the cocktail program here is just as strong. The eatery benefits from its location next to Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Distillery, whose spirits star in several top-shelf cocktails, and—added bonus—riverside views, made all the more enticing by Adirondack chairs on the lawn.
400 W. 23rd St., 410.925.7900
The sister bar to nearby Mexican restaurant Clavel Mezcaleria, this cozy bar has all the trappings of a good speakeasy—a nondescript entrance scrawled with the word “Enter” on it, dim lighting provided mostly by candles and experts behind the bar concocting some of the city’s best drinks.