Jess Blumberg Mayhugh's picture
May, 23rd 2013

Five things to do this Memorial Day Weekend

Baltimore magazine

Probably a lot of people are heading to the beach or manning their grills this weekend, but if you're looking for other options, here are five suggestions from around town.

DelFest: This four-day bluegrass festival (May 23-26) takes place at the Alleghany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, just a two-and-a-half hour drive from Baltimore. Started in 2008 by famed country musician Del McCoury, the festival has boasted acts such as Steve Martin's band Steep Canyon Rangers and The Avett Brothers in past years. This year's lineup is no less impressive for bluegrass heads with the Trey Anastasio Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Yonder Mountain String Band

Brew at the Zoo: On Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy a beer festival in a more non-traditional setting—The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Admission gets you unlimited beer sampling (from places like DuClaw, The Brewer's Art, Flying Dog, Baltimore-Washington Beer Works, and New Belgium), a commemorative tasting glass, free admission to the zoo, and live entertainment, headlined by All Mighty Senators on Saturday and Kelly Bell Band on Sunday.

Summer Sessions: Flying Dog Brewery started an outdoor concert series at its Frederick headquarters this year and it kicks off on Saturday with indie pop darlings Of Montreal. Flying Dog will provide 10 beers on tap, plus two experimental cask ales (Raging Bitch IPA with mango and habanero and Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout primed with maple syrup), and food-truck eats from Kooper's Chowhound and Smoking Swine.

Sowebo Arts and Music Festival: On Sunday, from noon-5 p.m., Southwest Baltimore will be celebrating all things art and music right around Hollins Market. The festival is featuring three stages of music—from the funky rock of Sweet Leda to the whimsical ukulele stylings of Victoria Vox—and more than 80 artists selling their jewelry, photos, clothing, and other wares. There will also be a salon-style art show and crafting for kids (like panting on a giant sail).

Good Life Feast-ival: Boordy Vineyards hosts events at its Glen Arm winery throughout the summer and this Saturday and Sunday (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) will be hosting a kickoff even to its farmers' market season. The event will feature tons of local farmers selling produce, entertainment from High Strung Bluegrass Band, and six wine-tasting samples from Boordy's newly released spring wines. Look out for local vendors like Green Onion, One Straw Farm, Haute Dog, and Prigel Family Creamery.

Jess Blumberg Mayhugh's picture
May, 9th 2013

Spring cocktails at Wit & Wisdom and PABU

Edinburgh Rose

Last night we were lucky enough to be invited to sample the new spring cocktails at Wit & Wisdom and PABU—both located inside the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. The evening was special for a lot of reasons: Wit & Wisdom just hired a new lead bartender, Aaron Joseph; the bars opened their patio up for the first time last week; and PABU was celebrating its one-year anniversary.

And, of course, both bars are rolling out their new spring cocktails. If you want spring in a drink, try Wit & Wisdom's Edinburgh Rose, pictured, made with Edinburgh gin, Lillet Rouge (French aperitif wine), house-made rose petal syrup, lemon, and an egg white garnished with rose petals. This cocktail is clean, the gin doesn't bog it down with juniper, and the egg white blends the sweet and tangy flavors of the drink.

Lead bartender Joseph shared some of his history with us and he has worked in the Caribbean, on the Eastern Shore, and in some of the finest craft cocktail bars in D.C. His resume is reflected on the drink menu. There's the Red Rum Punch made with Mount Gay Eclipse rum, passion-berry tea, lemon, orange, and sugar cane syrup garnished with a mint sprig and orange peel. This drink—which should properly be sipped on a patio—was tropical enough without being overbearing. It was more tart than sweet and the tea added an aromatic quality. A  local must-try is the Eastern Shore Shandy made with local Sloop Betty vodka, lemon, house made Old Bay Syrup, and Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning, garnished with an Old Bay rim. This take on a classic shandy is like a crab feast in a glass—spicy, buttery, and delicious.

The last drink we sampled was the Farragut, an extremely well-balanced mix of Four Roses bourbon, Nux Alpina walnut liqueur, sugar-free maple syrup, orange, and lemon, served over an ice ball and garnished with grated cinnamon and an orange peel. This cocktail hit all the right notes: smoky, sweet, and smooth. The perfect drink for those chillier spring nights.

Then we made our way over to PABU. This was my first time visiting the Japanese restaurant and bar. And it was a great night to do so. Because of its one-year anniversary, PABU brought in guest chefs from Roy's and The Food Market to create dishes, and featured dessert from Charm City Cakes. All of the food was excellent (especially a to-die-for soft-shell crab with lime-cilantro dipping sauce from The Food Market's Chad Gausse). 

We sampled PABU's spring cocktail menu as well, guided by lead bartender Nick Jones. Highlights for us included the Cobra Kai (Jones's tribute to Karate Kid), pictured, with Dewazakura Oka sake, Lillet Rouge, white tea syrup, lime juice, and sparking wine. The sake's cherry flavor married nicely with the tart lime and light, white tea. We tried additional sake with the help of Sommelier Tiffany Dawn Soto, who recommended the Okunomatsu Sparkling Daiginjo, which was like the champagne of sakes—bubbly and sweet with notes of melon and honey. Perfect way to cap our night!

Of course, these two places are on the swankier side of Baltimore bars (cocktails were $9-12 each), but if you're feeling fancy or just simply want to celebrate springtime, these two Four Seasons gems—with incredibly knowledgeable staff—are the perfect places to do just that.

12:42 pm Comment Count Tags: cocktails, parties, sake
Jess Blumberg Mayhugh's picture
May, 7th 2013

Your favorite brews—now in cans!

Loose Cannon

Just in time for summer barbecues and festivals, a couple of local breweries are rolling out some beers in can form.

A couple of weeks ago Heavy Seas Beer announced that its most popular brew, Loose Cannon, is being released in canned form, pictured. The famed IPA (cleverly renamed Loose CANnon) is available in most Baltimore area liquor stores.

And just today, I received a press release that Union Craft Brewing released its two flagship beers, Duckpin Pale Ale and Balt Altbier, in 12-ounce cans as well. Union's cans can be found at Baltimore retailers this week, and throughout Maryland in the next few weeks.

For those drinkers concerned that the can conversion will funk up the taste, Union co-founder Jon Zerivitz assures us that the can actually has added benefits (besides being lighter and easier to transfer).

"The can is the perfect package for our beer," he says. "It removes the threat of light and oxygen from affecting the quality of the beer and it can go places that glass cannot."

2:54 pm Comment Count Tags: beer, breweries
Samantha Iacia's picture
May, 3rd 2013

More Preakness-inspired drink recipes

Preakness cocktail

The bets, the hats, and yes, the drinks are all things we love about Preakness weekend. It doesn’t matter if you’re headed to a ritzy soiree or hosting a backyard party—there’s nothing that pairs better with watching the races than a good cocktail. A few local bartenders shared their Preakness-inspired recipes for you to try at home.

Doug Atwell, managing partner at Rye in Fells Point, put a spin on a classic drink.

“After looking through Preakness cocktails from years past, I wanted to offer a drink that was more than just an interpretation of a Black-Eyed Susan,” Atwell said. He said he created his drink, the Viking Daisy, pictured, because he wanted something with fresh and fragrant spring flavors.

“The name comes from the flowers used in the blanket placed around the Preakness winner’s neck,” he said. “Viking daisies are used since Black-Eyed Susans are not yet in season.”

Viking Daisy – Rye, $10 starting May 3

1.5 oz. Edinburgh gin

.75 oz. strawberry syrup*

.75 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice

.5 oz. Yellow Chartreuse

1 dash Bar Keep fennel bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel. 

*Strawberry syrup: In a heatproof container, pour 32 ounces 1:1 simple syrup (granulated sugar dissolved in boiling water) over 4 cups hulled and quartered fresh strawberries. Cover and let steep overnight. Strain and refrigerate. Syrup will last at least two weeks. 

The Preakness Cocktail – B&O American Brasserie, $10 during Preakness weekend (Fri. May 17-Sun. May 19)

2 oz. Bourbon whiskey or rye whiskey

1 oz. sweet vermouth

Bénédictine (to taste)

Angostura bitters (to taste)

A lemon twist (apply as garnish before serving) 

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Black-Eyed Susan crush – Mt. Washington Tavern, $7 during happy hour from 5-8 p.m. on May 9

1.25 oz. Finlandia Vodka

.25 oz. St. Germain liqueur

2 oz. lemon juice

3 oz. lemongrass simple syrup

3 oz. blackberry simple syrup

6 drops Angostura bitters

Serve over crushed ice. Garnish with one sage leaf. 

10:37 am Comment Count Tags: cocktails
Jess Blumberg Mayhugh's picture
May, 1st 2013

Cinco de Mayo drink recipe

The Paloma

Somehow it's already May (!) and that means one of our favorite holidays is coming up—Cinco de Mayo. Most people will probably be celebrating on Saturday at friends' houses or with daylong events like Fiesta de Fells.

But no matter where you're commemorating the holiday, there is one drink you should try: the Paloma. Contrary to popular belief, the Paloma is actually the most popular tequila-based drink in Mexico, more so than the famous margarita. We'd like to think it's because the bitterness of the grapefruit balances perfectly with tequila's acidity instead of just lime juice alone.

We sampled a delicious Paloma recently at La Palapa Grill & Cantina on Ellicott City's Main Street and called over to the bar to find out how they make this delicious creation:

  • 1 3/4 oz. Espolón Blacno tequila
  • 2-3 muddled lime wedges
  • squirt of Grapefruit soda

Mix all ingredients in a pint glass full of ice. Shake vigorously. Serve on the rocks in a salted cocktail glass. Leave the muddled limes in drink and garnish with lime wedge.

10:48 am Comment Count Tags: cocktails, holidays
Samantha Iacia's picture
April, 26th 2013

Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival

Charm City Bluegrass

The sold-out Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival, hosted by the team at Union Craft Brewing, starts tomorrow in Woodberry at 11 a.m. The outdoor festival, which is being held in Union Craft’s parking lot, includes 12 hours of live music, a special one-day-only beer, and food vendors.

The lineup starts out with 30-minute sets from local and regional acts like Letita VanSant, the Honey Dewdrops, Pretty Gritty, Caleb Stine, and Chester River Runoff. The night wraps up with appearances by a few bluegrass veterans including Tim O’Brien from 8:45-9:45 p.m. and famed banjoist Tony Trischka from 10-11 p.m. 

Besides the music, the most arguably anticipated part of the day is the debut of Union Craft’s brand-new Clawhammer Ale, which is being brewed and sold exclusively for the festival. 

“We wanted to have something different out there,” said Union Craft founder Kevin Blodger. He described Clawhammer as a light-bodied, cream ale.

Blodger said that Union Craft’s regular brews, including Duckpin Pale Ale and Blackwing Lager, will be available, too. Mother’s Federal Hill and Grilled Cheese & Co. will be on site selling food. 

With about 1,500 attendees expected, Blodger said he urges anyone going to the festival to forego driving and use public transportation instead. He said the Woodberry Light Rail stop, which is just behind the Union Craft building, is a good alternative.

Since the brewery opened early last year, it’s been involved with hosting community events including a fundraiser for B.more Local, food tours, and weekly beer tastings. Tomorrow’s festival is the biggest event sponsored by Union Craft so far. 

“One of our goals when we opened was to be an active member of the community,” Blodger said.

“We’re really excited,” he added, talking about the festival. “It’s gonna be a great day.”

If you don’t already have a ticket, your chances of snagging one are pretty slim. But check out the festival’s Facebook page, where some people have been selling their tickets. 

Samantha Iacia's picture
April, 19th 2013

Privateer Festival returns to Fells Point

Baltimore magazine

The 9th annual Privateer Festival kicks off this weekend along Thames Street in Fells Point. The free pirate-themed festival is a mix of live music, historical re-enactments, maritime attractions, and of course, beer. Ahoy, mateys! 

Friday night’s rainy weather forecast caused the festival's host, Fells Point Main Street, Inc., to cancel the famed Pyrate’s Ball and craft and food market, since both events were scheduled to be outside. But the rest of the weekend is expected to go as planned. 

From 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, events will take place at seven different spots throughout Fells Point. 

The main stage in Broadway Square will have live music all weekend from buccaneer bands like The Pyrates Royale and The Brigands. On Saturday at 1 p.m., there will be a nautical pet costume contest. The main stage is also the place to buy tickets for the Pyrate Invasion Pub Crawl that starts on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Adjacent to the main stage is where you’ll find the craft and food market and the "grog garden" featuring Heavy Seas beer. A portion of the garden’s proceeds benefit the Tyanna Foundation

Live historical displays based on the War of 1812 will be at the Broadway pier. Watch cannon and flag demonstrations, tour ships, or set sail on the Pride of Baltimore II (tickets start at $45). And don’t miss the sea battle between schooners and privateers that starts at 5 p.m. both days. 

At Brown’s Wharf marina, theatrical group Valhalla’s Pirates will perform three live pirate combat shows each day at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. 

Families can check out the Ann Street pier for kids' activities, including face painting and crafts, a treasure hunt, and magic shows by Whitebeard the Conjuror. In Thames Street Park, Ye Pyrate Brotherhood will be doing educational and interactive re-enactments. 

If the weather holds up, the festival is sure to be a weekend of swashbuckling fun (complete with a handful of Captain Jack Sparrow impersonators). 

2:03 pm Comment Count Tags: beer, festivals
Jess Blumberg Mayhugh's picture
April, 3rd 2013

Orioles rally Wednesday at Castaways

Baltimore magazine

If you can't wait until Friday's home opener to celebrate Orioles Magic, then you're in luck because Baltimore publisher Steve Geppi and his family are hosting an Orioles pep rally tonight at Castaways Bar & Grill.

The fun kicks off at 8 p.m. with ladies' night drink specials including $1 drafts and $2 rail drinks for ladies and $2 drafts for the guys. Karaoke, hosted by Mark Bishop begins at 9 p.m. and there will be Orioles-gear giveaways, as well as discounted spray-tanning from Glittergold.

There is no cover for the event and all guests (21 and over, of course) are encouraged to dress in their Orioles best.

3:22 pm Comment Count Tags: bars, orioles, parties
Samantha Iacia's picture
April, 2nd 2013

Dionysus shuts down in Mount Vernon

Baltimore magazine

Dionysus Restaurant and Lounge in Mount Vernon appears to have closed in early March after an inspector found several building and fire code violations on the property. 

Issued on March 7 by the Baltimore Housing Dept., the notice posted to the bar's front door states that a dumpster and oil drums located behind the building are without permits.

Despite having 10 days to fix the violations, Dionysus shut down during the same week that the notice was posted. Early rumors implied that the bar was having bill payment troubles, but nothing has been confirmed. 

Jason Curtis, public relations committee chair for the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association (MVBA), was unable to share any insight about the situation. 

“It’s unfortunate that Dionysus has closed,” he said. “We have not been able to speak with the owner or manager directly as to a reason.”

MVBA Vice President Paul Warren said he didn't know anything other than what was stated in the notice.

Dionysus, which opened on Preston Street in 2003, was a neighborhood favorite for its laid-back basement bar, movie and open mic nights, and upstairs restaurant. Rumors are still swirling as to what exactly happened and why the bar is now out of business.

10:59 am Comment Count Tags: bars, restaurants
Jess Blumberg Mayhugh's picture
March, 29th 2013

New Old Bay-flavored vodka

Baltimore magazine

On Monday, Philadelphia Distilling launched a seasoned vodka that is flavored with Old Bay-like spices and notes, or what they call "Chesapeake seasonings." 

"We were certainly not trying to clone Old Bay exactly," says Philadelphia Distillers president Andrew Auwerda. "But we know a lot of crab houses make their own seafood seasoning, so that was sort of the model we were following."

The vodka, which is currently available in some bars in D.C. and will be available in Baltimore "in a matter of days," is described as a briny and spicy concoction, best suited in Bloody Marys, oyster shooters, or even Negronis. 

And, in case you were worried about a Philadelphia company making an Old Bay-like drink, Auwerda, who is a University of Maryland graduate and Cecil County resident, assures us it's the real deal.

"Members of the Baltimore Bartender's Guild were part of the taste-testing last summer," he says. "And all of the spices are made in Maryland."

Check out the vodka's Facebook page for updates about where to find the spirit in local bars and liquor stores.

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