Until a few years ago, I wasn’t much for cocktails. Maybe a Manhattan or a Dark & Stormy made for me (beautifully) by my friend and sometimes bartender, Chip. That’s a lovely drink, especially on that first really warm night in spring. Ah, I can taste it. Spring is coming, it is.
Then came the modern cocktail movement, led here locally by the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild. Founded in 2011, the BBG is a collection of local like-minded bar professionals with one goal: to raise the bar. They work to “bring a new level of classic and contemporary cocktails to the city of Baltimore, while providing guests with the best quality of service.” And that, they have done so well. I, for one, have learned so much sitting at the bar with these talented people. For example, Nick Jones of PABU turned me into a gin fan. Aaron Joseph of Wit & Wisdom taught me about different types of rum. Ryan Sparks of Bookmakers? Chartreuse!
The original members at its inception were Brendan Dorr of B&O Brasserie, Doug Atwell of Rye, Corey Polyoka of Woodberry Kitchen, John Reusing of Bad Decisions and Nelson Carey and Chris Attenborough of Grand Cru, where the first meeting took place. The group now has approximately 40 members (each paying annual dues of $80) and meets on the first Monday of each month. Each meeting begins with a welcome cocktail, often featuring a spirit being discussed that day. Members take turns presenting on various topics such as spirits and ingredients, job openings and cocktail event opportunities (Tales of the Cocktail, Portland Cocktail Week, etc) and much more. Sometimes spirit companies and producers present to the group and they also take field trips to distilleries and breweries, creating helpful relationships, chances to network and have a little fun on what is often many bartenders’ day off.
One of the Guild’s biggest events of the year is Rye’s Up benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Maryland. On Sunday, March 1 at B&O Brasserie, guests will enjoy cocktails handcrafted by 19 BBG members and small bites from local restaurants – yep, 19 cocktails. Pace yourself. They’ll also have live jazz music, a fabulous silent auction and local wine and gin, plus delicious beer by local rock stars Union Craft Brewing. A panel of nationally known judges will have the opportunity to sample and vote on which BBG member’s cocktail is crowned the best of the bunch. And, one BBG member and restaurant will be awarded a “People’s Choice” award, which will be based solely on the votes of attendees. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased at Mission Tix.
What I need to tell you most about this party? 1) It’s the best cocktail event of the year. 2) The BBG bartenders pull out the stops to create some amazing rye whiskey cocktails. 3) To be on the safe side: Uber.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I’m out enjoying new cocktails all the time. Here’s a few…
Fork & Wrench
Check out this documentary, Hey Bartender. It’s pretty great.
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