Father-and-son team Ken and Spencer Horsman partly opened Illusions Magic Bar & Lounge (1025 S. Charles Street, 410-727-5811) to give Spencer a venue in which to hone his magic act between tours. (The 21-year-old child of two circus clowns had already done Letterman by the time he was 8.) And sure enough, at 10 p.m., the winsome Spencer jumps on the bar to run through his good-humored patter and a couple of card routines, ending with his pièce de résistance: escaping from a straightjacket while hanging upside-down from the ceiling. But perhaps the neatest trick of the night is the bar's front door, which magically transports all who pass through it to Manhattan. With its back room full of leather couches, its good-looking bartenders serving equally good-looking drinks, and its trancey music, this place is a step up from your average Federal Hill wings'n'suds watering hole.
Unfortunately, not all of the clientele seems to have figured that out—many were slurring loudly over Spencer's brief act during our visit. This is one place where we wouldn't mind paying at least a token cover, especially if it would discourage the unappreciative and help defray the cost of the drinks, which also remind us of New York right now.