This month our friend and arbiter of all things in good taste, Arielle Goldman, spent some time in Charm City over the holidays and unearthed some gems for us. Baltimore may not be on the top of your must-visit list, but this historic seaport (traditionally known for its crab shacks) has more to offer than what meets the eye. You just have to do a little digging.
Every time I go back to my hometown of Baltimore, MD my to-do (and to-eat, and to-drink) list gets a little longer. There are old favorites like Fells Point and the Walters Art Museum, but I also have to find time to try out the new spots that keep popping up. While I was home for the holidays, I grabbed my camera and my husband and got to exploring some old haunts and new staples.
We started our day in Federal Hill by the inner harbor. At the foot of the historic hill is the weird and wonderful American Visionary Art Museum. This spot is unlike any other museum I’ve been to. It’s full of works by self-taught and little-known artists, and it’s always a breath of fresh air.
We went around to the other side of the harbor to Fells Point for some mussels à la Bertha. Edward and I split the assorted mussels (why limit yourself to just one sauce?) and a couple of local brews. He ordered the Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, and I had a Brewer’s Art Resurrection.
There’s been a ton of growth around Baltimore’s inner harbor, but Fells Point looks more or less like it did when I was growing up. After lunch, we walked by the water and stopped into a few of the little shops that make Fells Point such a delight.
After strolling the waterfront, we ventured a few miles north to the brand new Baltimore Whiskey Company. Max and Eli are two of the owners and they kindly gave us a tour of their distillery and showed off their killer copper still before giving us a taste of the Baltimore Shot Tower navy strength gin. Whoo boy.
We chatted with Max and Eli about their love for all things Charm City and what they’ve got in the works for the near future. Later this month they’ll release the Baltimore 1904 Ginger Apple liqueur, and this summer they’ll be ready with a barrelled gin and the Baltimore Charles Street Apple Brandy. The Shot Tower rye is coming out in 2018 and I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, we picked up a couple bottles of the Shot Tower gin, and we’ll be mixing many a pink gin (Max and Eli’s recommendation) in 2016. As for Max’s new year’s resolution? “We’d like to get Baltimore drunk on Baltimore. Is that too much to ask?” It looks like you’ve already started.
The Baltimore Whiskey Company is just on the edge of the Remington neighborhood, which is undergoing a bit of a growth spurt at the moment. After our gin tasting, we went to Bar Clavel, a mezcaleria and taqueria for, you guess it, mezcal and tacos. It’s a new and instant favorite, and I highly recommend the lengua taco and a spicy mezcalita.
The next morning was a rainy one, so we found shelter at the Walters Art Museum in my old neighborhood of Mount Vernon. The museum is in a beautiful old building across the street from the Washington monument. It has free admission, which made it a favorite for me back in the days when I lived around the corner, had no car, and a first-job-out-of-college salary. Some things have changed since then, but the Walters is still as gorgeous and grand as ever.
For lunch, Edward and I popped over to the Mount Vernon Marketplace, just down the street from the Walters. The marketplace is home to some great food and drink vendors, and since the rain clearly wasn’t letting up anytime soon, we decided to grab some dumplings from Pinch and belly up to Taps for a beer flight.
After the beers, it was time for oysters. Edward and I met up with some old friends, Irene and Dylan, at the Local Oyster. Dylan is preparing to open Dylan’s Oyster Cellar later this year, but in the meantime he was happy to shuck some oysters for us at the marketplace. We tried a variety, including the local Skinny Dippers. Briny perfection.
Next up were cocktails and more snacks at Cultured. While our bartender Molly mixed up a few Preaknesses for us to sip on, Dylan talked about Baltimore’s culinary past, his excitement for its future, the allure of oysters, and his 2016 resolution. “Open my oyster cellar! And have fun.” Can’t argue with that.
And for dessert? Baltimore’s own Berger cookie, naturally.
Arielle Goldman is an interior designer based in Richmond, VA. Her blog is Scotch & Nonsense, where she chronicles her love of islay and her ongoing improvements to her recently acquired 150-year-old home in Church Hill.