Photo of red velvet couches in plush bar setting
Photo of Bloom's bar from Hotel Ulysses' Instagram page.

Three bars in Baltimore have landed on Esquire magazine’s “Best Bars In America 2023” list.

The first bar listed in the Esquire piece is the temporarily closed Church in Old Goucher, which reviewer Kevin Sintumuang describes as “a place of community” created by Chelsea Gregoire, who happens to be an ex-theologian.

Sintumuang writes, “Church leans into the idea of meeting other people and cultivating friendships through its genial staff and intimate spaces. It has subtle church cues—the greeter stands behind a pulpit, the bar is lined with pipes like an organ, the back room has pews.”

He describes the drinks as “culinary and delightfully weird,” and wishes (as, be honest, most of us probably do) that the drinks at Church were served during church services.

Although the bar took paused business earlier this month, Church announced on social media that they will be “reopening soon” for “Chapter 2.”

Sintumuang also rates two bars at the Hotel Ulysses as list-worthy: Ash Bar and Bloom’s.

The bars are on either side of the hotel’s lobby, and Sintumuang worries that we Baltimoreans don’t know what we have in this gem. But don’t worry, Kevin, we do.

He calls them “intimate and casually glamorous, with just the right amount of weird,” befitting the town John Waters calls home.

“To the left, you have Ash Bar, a breakfast-to-nightcap situation, ensconced amid deep-red burl-wood paneling and rattan furniture,” he writes. “To the right, Bloom’s is like a disco ball of a bar: mirrored ceiling, mirrored bar, channel-tufted red banquettes. The room’s curved shape means you can see everyone else. Observe how cool Baltimore has become.”

Ahem. “Has become?” Oh, Kevin, where have you been?