Where to Get a Good Cocktail in Baltimore
In the mood for an expertly crafted drink? Head to these top cocktail bars, from the literary-themed Bluebird Cocktail Room to speakeasy-style W.C. Harlan.
Baltimore, once known as wet city due to the city’s aversion to Prohibition restrictions, has no shortage of watering holes. But if you’re looking for the best bars in Baltimore for a cocktail, you’ve come to the right place. Find out where to get handcrafted and innovative drinks to enjoy Baltimore’s nightlife.
Alma Cocina Latina
Every detail at Alma Cocina Latina is designed to transport you to Venezuela. Known for their aprepas (cornmeal cakes stuffed with meat and other accoutrement), Alma’s menu is full of South American flavor. The beverage program focuses primarily on the spirits and wines from South America and Spain, including more than 60 rums. Cocktails are created by Maja Griffin with a focus on ingredients from the Venezuelan rainforest.
The Bluebird Cocktail Room
Stylish and inviting, this second-story cocktail bar in Hampden pairs a sophisticated setting with a literary theme. The name comes from a Charles Bukowski poem and drink offerings change seasonally and take thematic inspiration from literature. A recent menu at the Bluebird Cocktail Room, loosely based on Grimm’s Fairy Tales, included a cocktail dubbed Little Snow White and described as “a dry gin cocktail with a bitter heart,” served with an ice sphere. No detail is spared—ice cubes are custom carved from a 300-pound block—and the concoctions are artfully balanced. Plus, many of the cocktails can be made spirit-free! As a bonus, head to the building’s basement level to check out the Pub, featuring the same level of craft cocktails alongside a global whiskey menu.
Ulysses, the swanky new hotel concept from ASH NYC, promises its guests two things: “strong drinks and soft beds.” It delivers on the former with Bloom’s, a self-described “late-night drinking parlor.” The plush pink sofas, warm accent lighting and reflective wrap-around bar evoke the campy, rebellious artistry of Baltimore icon John Waters, and the cocktail menu is just as playful. Create your own Old Fashioned by choosing from a selection of spirit bases and bitters, or try the “Jungle Bird,” composed of Blackstrap Rum, Cappelletti Aperitivo, pineapple, lime and demerara syrup.
Located in Harbor East atop the Four Seasons Hotel on the 29th floor, The Bygone pays homage to the roaring ’20s with indulgent foods and cocktails accompanied by unrivaled panoramic views of the Inner Harbor. The bar area includes an outdoor terrace and its own menu, plus enjoy live DJs on the weekends.
With a name that refers to the bravado one feels after downing an alcoholic beverage, it’s no wonder that Dutch Courage continues to develop innovative gin-focused cocktails while offering a stellar food menu and an always-on-point playlist. Their 18-page spirits list contains more than 100 gin variations, as well as whiskeys, tequilas and rums, that you can enjoy as tastes or pours, or combined with other ingredients in a creative concoction. Recent holiday offerings include “Gin-gle All the Way,” a blend of ha’penny rhubarb gin, don ciccio ambrosia aperitivo, bay leaf-black pepper tincture and domain bousquet rosé, and “Naughty or Nice,” consisting of seedlip grove 42, giffard n.a. aperitif, grapefruit, rose water and opia n.a. sparkling chardonnay.
The Elk Room
Ranked as one of Esquire’s best bars in the country in 2018, this Harbor East speakeasy offers up stellar cocktails in a chic, intimate space inspired by speakeasies. At the Elk Room, the guest list is capped at 50 and photography is prohibited to play up the secretive vibe. The drink menu is lined with concoctions that range from standard to original compositions. One such concoction? A drink titled after jazz great Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” and made with Amaro Montenegro, limoncello, locally made cold brew, cardamom, pistachio syrup, rose water, egg and cream.
NiHao can’t be pigeonholed into one category. The contemporary Chinese restaurant in Canton serves new takes on traditional Chinese flavors with dishes like Peking duck, blue-crab steamed buns and Chinese meatballs. But the cocktail menu is where the fun really starts. The restaurant boasts one of the largest selections of BaiJiu, a liquor distilled from sorghum and wheat, in North America, which can be enjoyed in the Sichuan Tiki Punch and NiHao Breeze cocktails. Or, order a carafe for the whole table.
This Afro-Latin fusion restaurant is seafood-focused with cocktails straight from your last Caribbean vacation, complete with a rum punch served in a whole pineapple. Papi’s famous crab eggrolls will also pair nicely with a Passion Fruit Pleaser, which includes pineapple juice and passion fruit puree.
At the center of Remington‘s R. House is r. bar, complete with a rotating list of draft beers, wines and hand crafted cocktails. They also have several mocktails on hand, such as the Billie Holiday-inspired “Lady Sings the Booze,” a medley of ginger beer, spiced pear syrup, lemon and black walnut bitters. The cocktail list is often themed based on events going on that week, or the bartender’s mood. Whatever the reason, you won’t want to miss out. Enjoy your drink at the bar or walk around the food hall and sample the many different types of cuisine.
This Fell’s Point craft cocktail bar finds inspiration in the historic setting of its neighborhood, creating inventive drinks that are sure to please. A sampling of the selection? Try Rye’s house Pimm’s Cup on draft, which features homemade Pimm’s liqueur mixed with strawberry-rosemary soda and Thai basil. Or go for the Brazilian rum blended with noyaux liquor, a campariesque aperitif, lime, coconut and cinnamon.
“Top Chef” alum Jesse Sandlin has breathed new life into the Highlandtown neighborhood’s late-night dining scene with Sally O’s, featuring elevated bar eats and a fun cocktail menu set in a colorful space. Try Sally’s Old Fashioned with marshmallow syrup or the Star Tropics with a secret blend of tropical flavors.
An intimate lower-level bar in historic Mount Vernon, Sugarvale, is a neighborhood favorite for a reason. The space is clean-lined and petite, with seating for 35 and walls lined with crisp white subway tiles—and the cocktail menu feels equally modern. Divided into drinks either shaken or stirred, the selection includes intriguing combinations, such as sherry with Mexican bitters, house made fig jam, rosemary honey and egg white, or the Danish aquavit combined with amaro, thyme liquor, ginger, lemon and sesame oil.
The Wine Collective
Though the Wine Collective is first and foremost an urban winery (the wines are made on site), they also make their own vermouth with grapes carefully grown in Maryland and with minimal intervention and minimal added sulfites. The vermouths are showcased with a few different cocktails alongside a menu of pixtos, tapas and charcuterie boards. Located in Union Collective in Hampden, also home to Baltimore Spirits Company and Union Craft Brewing, the Wine Collective is the perfect place to kick off your night.
Tucked into a humble Remington rowhouse, this speakeasy-inspired spot pairs a cozy, candlelit setting—complete with period antiques and an authentic 1920s vibe—with expertly crafted cocktails. Expect new riffs on classic drinks at W.C. Harlan, like old fashioneds and pisco sours, reworked with complex, distinctive flavor profiles and stylishly served in vintage glassware.
Mocktails to Remember
Whether you're looking to drink less, or you've always abstained from alcohol, Baltimore's zero-proof scene has got you covered.
Before you even take a bite, this Remington mezcaleria and taqueria’s clean white walls, warm wood furniture, incandescent string lights and gorgeous greenery will have you dying to snap a picture worthy of Instagram’s Explore page. Clavel’s delicious tacos with homemade tortillas and ceviche may steal the show, but its non-alcoholic cocktails rival it. Enjoy flavors like pineapple, watermelon and orange, plus garnishes like nixtamalized corn honey and guajillo-rose salt.
Duck Duck Goose
After overcoming his struggles with addiction and embracing a sober lifestyle, Chef Ashish Alfred recognizes the importance of providing thoughtful beverage options for individuals who don’t drink. He does so at all of his Baltimore-area restaurants, including his France-inspired Fell’s Point bistro Duck Duck Goose. Sample the Seedlip-based lemonade and limeade or the spirit-free sangria, which fuses flavors of blood orange and citrus with the spice of ginger beer.
Hopscotch Zero-Proof Bottle Shop
The first nonalcoholic bottle shop in Maryland, Hopscotch provides more than 100 varieties of zero-proof wine, beer and spirits. Owner Darryl Collins has designed the Fell’s Point shop to be a community hub that hosts tastings, classes and events for not only the sober and sober-curious, but for anyone who wants to swap their cocktail for a mocktail every now and then.
The Urban Oyster
In addition to mouthwatering chargrilled oysters and seafood specialties, Chef Jasmine Norton serves well-crafted cocktails and mocktails at her Hampden restaurant, The Urban Oyster. Pick from “Urban Oyster’s Famous” lemonade with pineapple and ginger, a pink ginger drink with sorrel and lime, or the “Tamarind Tradewinds” with mint, pineapple, lemon and almond orgeat.
Located down the street from Baltimore’s historic Washington Monument and the Walters Art Museum, Hotel Revival’s rooftop restaurant Topside offers a full zero-proof menu “made with love but not the buzz” courtesy of Bar Manager Anna Welker. Featured drinks are made with gin and tequila alternatives, as well as fresh ingredients like pineapple shrub and Aztec chocolate bitters.
True Chesapeake Oyster Co.
True Chesapeake Oyster Co., located within Whitehall Market, offers several nonalcoholic wine and beer options, but the spirit-free cocktails steal the show. Try the “Goose,” a concoction of pineapple, lime, molasses and bitter aperitif, or opt for the “Baltimore Southside,” a blend of lemon, lime, mint and ginger.
True to name, Wicked Sisters provides “wickedly good” American fare with a twist. The menu features elevated salads, warm bowls and sandwiches with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. As for drinks, Wicked Sisters provides several spirit-free selections such as the cucumber mule and blueberry mojito, but their Hampden punch—made from apple, cranberry, ginger and lime—steals the show.