While a classic Tom Collins or Cosmopolitan will always please the palate, sometimes it’s fun to try out a more unique mix. A few of Baltimore’s bartenders shared some of their favorites and inspirations. Consider one of these five creative cocktails during the next dinner or happy hour.
The Antigua Stiletto
1011 W. 36th St.
Baltimore, Md. 21211
Co-owner and bartender Debi Bell-Matassa concocted the “Antigua Stiletto” based on an amazing aroma of roasted peppers from her kitchen as the scent wafted through the home. First, make a chipotle simple syrup with three roasted, dried and chopped chipotle peppers, four cups of sugar and two cups of boiling water. Stir the sugar until it dissolves and then add the pepper. Allow the mixture to sit, refrigerated, for at two days.
To start the Antigua Stiletto, muddle a thin orange slice with chocolate mole bitters into a rocks glass. Add three ounces of Makers Mark and three ounces of chipotle simple syrup. Add a splash of club soda. Ice the glass and shake it vigorously. Garnish the drink with dried cherries that were soaked in Makers for at least two days. The heat “gives this twisted old fashion a real sting,” Bell-Matassa said.
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Hand In the Honey Jar
Blue Hill Tavern
938 S. Conkling St.
Baltimore, Md. 21224
Blue Hill Tavern’s “Hand in the Honey Jar” is the perfect winter cocktail. Cinnamon and honey add a layer of warmth to a smoky bourbon, while amaretto adds a bit of bitterness that blends everything together. Bartender Megan O’Rourke mixes three ounces of bourbon, one ounce of amaretto, one tablespoon of honey, and a dash of cinnamon in a martini shaker. She shakes for 20 seconds and strains the mix over ice in a large rocks glass. “Hand in the Honey Jar” is sure to warm up a cold night.
Brown Sugar Manhattan
4800 Roland Ave.
Baltimore, Md. 21210
Johnny’s, the new venture of Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf in Roland Park, serves up the “Brown Sugar Manhattan,” crafted by bartender, Virginia Gadiano. She mixes two ounces of Knob Creek bourbon, one-half ounce of Vya sweet vermouth, one-half ounce of brown sugar syrup, a dash of Bitter Truth aromatic bitters, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. She adds the combination over ice and shakes. The Manhattan is strained into a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with a house-made brandied cherry.
The Dragon Bite
1390 Lancaster St.
Baltimore, Md. 21231
“The Dragon Bite” is a dangerous drink, as the name implies. The sweet strawberry puree, fresh lemon juice, and splash of soda easily disguise the Bacardi Dragonberry base. Add in traditional Japanese yuzu, an aromatic fruit juice, and the Dragon Bite gains back a little of its bite. Customers can purchase the Dragon Bite for $6 during happy hour at RA Sushi.
2933 O’Donnell St.
Baltimore, Md. 21224
Shiso Tavern bartender Dana Morris enjoys experimenting with different spirit or sake infusions to complement the restaurant’s Asian fusion cuisine. Inspired by Shiso Tavern’s owner’s fig trees, Dana infused dried, quartered figs with vodka. She pours two ounces of the fig vodka into a shaker with ice, adds one-half ounce of amaretto and a splash of cranberry juice. She shakes it vigorously and pours it into a cocktail glass garnished with a candied almond. It’s easy to whip up a full pitcher for parties, as well!
Renee Libby Beck spends her days as a public relations and social media manager for Medifast, Inc. and any spare time that she can find as a freelance writer. Her work has been published in local and national publications. Renee also serves as the Baltimore Food Examiner for Examiner.com.