Nightlife

  • Best Bar for Kids: Curb Shoppe

    5736 Falls Road, (410) 433-8299, curbshoppe.com Sometimes you have a hankering for a little daytime booze—not a lot, mind you, just a little nip, maybe with lunch or to relax after a tough day—but you’ve got the kids, dammit. Well, leave your outdated conventional wisdom behind: Bars are great...

  • Best Strip Club: Fantasies Nightclub & Sports Bar

    5520 Pennington Ave., (410) 354-1217, fantasiesnightclub.com It takes a lot more than naked “wimmen” to turn our head when it comes to Best Strip Club. After a whopping $1.5 million renovation, which includes a posh and private VIP area, the addition of a head chef to prepare everything on an extensive...

  • Best Irish Bar: Patrick's of Pratt Street

     934 W. Pratt St., (443) 438-3749, patricksofpratt.com Irish bars have developed something of a bad rap in today’s craft-beer-and-cocktails/faux-rustic/themed-bars-are-lame nightlife scene; they can be stale in their offerings (how many Guinnesses do you really want to down?), attract a fusty clientele,...

  • Best Mezcaleria: Clavel

    225 W. 23rd St., (301) 848-2849, barclavel.com This is sort of a no-contest award, given that, as far as we know, Clavel is the only dedicated mezcaleria in the city. But its collection of mezcal, a spirit made from the agave plant in Mexico, is so impressive that it deserves acknowledgement. The...

  • Best New "Secret" Bar: Mi Comalito

    2101 N. Charles St., (410) 837-6033 Opened early this year, the bar above Old Goucher’s Mi Comalito joins the ranks of small, “hidden” bars that pepper upper Station North, Old Goucher, and lower Charles Village. The new bar is packed all weekend with fans of Salvadoran and Honduran food and music....

  • Best Cocktail: False Idol at La Cuchara

    3600 Clipper Mill Road, (443) 708-3838, lacucharabaltimore.com The Basque-inspired restaurant at Meadow Mill opened with one of the city’s best wine lists, a super-sharp beer selection, and a really impressive lineup of American and European ciders. The cocktail program is impressive, too, and...

  • Best Lounge: Goodfellas Lounge

    4919 Belair Road, (443) 759-6615 Some days a bar just won’t do. Some days it takes a lounge. Some days you want to drink by dim lamp light while sitting in a booth, or better yet, a black leather sofa. On days like that, you should head to Goodfellas Lounge. It’s a gem tucked into a basement at...

  • Best Cocktail Program: Bookmakers Cocktail Club

    31 E. Cross St., (443) 438-4039, bookmakersbaltimore.com Jager bombs, lemon drops, and Red Bull and vodka slushies are usually what come to mind when we think of Federal Hill, but Bookmakers Cocktail Club is turning that reputation on its head. Led by innovative beverage director Ryan Sparks, this...

  • Best Bourbon Bar: Blue Pit BBQ & Whiskey Bar

    1601 Union Ave. (443) 948-5590 bluepitbbq.com Blue Pit is mostly known for its amazing selection of barbecue and its outdoor seating in the warmer months. But lovers of “John Barleycorn” know that Blue Pit also serves up a selection of 40-plus bourbons. If you’re a newbie, the bartenders will guide...

  • Best Beer Selection You Can't Pronounce: De Kleine Duivel

    3602 Hickory Ave., dekleineduivel.com Slaapmutske, De Struise Brouwers, Grimbergen . . . no, you’re not in a European geography class, these are just some of the brewery names you’ll butcher when you try and order a beer at Hampden’s De Kleine Duivel. Focused exclusively on serving up the best...

  • Best Bloody Mary: Bloody Bay at B&O American Brasserie

    2 N. Charles St., (443) 692-6172, bandorestaurant.com There are some weekend mornings where bloody marys aren’t a choice, but a necessary means of survival. Unlike mimosas, bloodys are quite easy to screw up—many a watered-down tomato-vodka slurry has ruined our day. So it was awesome when we discovered...

  • Best Martini: The Peppermill

    1301 York Road, Lutherville-Timonium, (410) 583-1107, pepmill.com For over three decades this U-shaped bar on the ground floor of the Heaver Plaza has been keeping the residents of Lutherville lubricated by never wavering from its core mission: Serve solid drinks at reasonable prices. Never a place...

  • Best Mule: Family Mule at Le Garage

    911 W. 36th St., (410) 243-6300, legaragebaltimore.com The bartenders at the dark/cozy/French Le Garage Beer Bar & Frites know their way around a dropper for their more-precise cocktails, yet their self-bottled Family Mule is all consistent recipe and nectarous. Made daily, Le Garage’s riff on...

  • Best Garage to Get Drunk In: Charm City Meadworks

    3511 8th Ave., (610) 724-1981, charmcitymeadworks.com Nestled toward the end of a not-often-traveled road in Curtis Bay is one of our newest favorite places to get our Saturday day-drinking on. Baltimore City’s first meadery, Charm City Meadworks, houses its tasting room alongside its 300 gallon...

  • Best Dance Party: Vague Output

    This pretty-much-monthly experimental electronic party, often at legit above-ground venues (namely, the Crown) before going a bit more underground for its after party at a secret warehouse space, is appropriately oblique and defiantly about the music. That’s not to say that other great dance events...

  • Best Dance Series: Physical Education

    The Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., (410) 662-0069, theottobar.com Five years is a long time to hold down a weekly party in any city, especially in Baltimore, where nights seem to come and go. That’s why James Nasty’s recently ended Physical Education was such an exception. Playing to a mixed crowd...

  • Best Promoter: TT The Artist

    What constitutes a “promoter” these days has changed. It doesn’t just mean someone who books cool shows; it often means a tastemaker and a curator and, in its own way, an artist in and of themselves— a supporter of the scene and all its parts and multitudes. TT The Artist released two excellent...

  • Best Heir to CBGB: The Sidebar

    218 E. Lexington St., (410) 659-4130, sidebarbaltimore.com We seem to forget that bands like The Ramones, Blondie, and Talking Heads were once young musicians looking for a break at a little bar on the Bowery called CBGB. When we look at old photos of the iconic New York punk club with the bands...

  • Best Karaoke: Rockstar Karaoke at Horseshoe Casino

    1525 Russell St., (844) 777-7463, caesars.com/horseshoe-baltimore Who needs “American Idol” when you have Thursday nights at the Horseshoe Casino? All you need to know about this karaoke night is that it’s with a full live band. Yes, you read that correctly, a full band, and it’s as badass as it...

  • Best Interior: Melba's Place

    3126 Greenmount Ave., (410) 366-6536, melbasplace.com Melba’s doesn’t play. Shiny cocktail glasses are kept on wooden shelves above the long wooden bar, which is reflected in the wall-to-wall mirrors and bathed in blue and red lights. It feels like the ’70s in a good way— like stepping back into...

  • Best Bar Foot Rail: Knotty Pine

    801 S. Conkling St., (410) 534-9701 We were knocking about Brewers Hill one evening when we chanced on this ultra-low-key dive bar that’s really not all that dive-y—it’s clean, brightly lit, and has a courteous, attentive tender on the other side of the bar. But what seals its status as a dive...

  • Best Lowbrow Bar Snack: Quigley's Half-Irish Pub

    633 Portland St., (410) 539-9052, quigleyshalfirishpub.com It’s easy enough to live in Baltimore for years and never come across this Ridgely’s Delight bar, tended to by a rather stern owner who we could not coax so much as a grin out of in our visits. But that somber quality made it all the more...

  • Best New Microspot: 1157 Bar + Kitchen

    1157 Haubert St., (443) 449-5525, facebook.com/1157barandkitchen It can be a challenge to score a spot at this small new bar/restaurant on the outskirts of Locust Point (seating is limited to the bar, a handful of two-top booths, and a small communal table), but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with...

  • Best Magic Bathroom: Max's Taphouse

    737 S. Broadway, (410) 675-6297, maxs.com Max’s claims many properties we admire (see previous Best Of awards, too numerous to list), but the city’s undisputed king of beer bars possesses a quirk that we only note to certain friends: Its women’s room is almost always empty. Even during Belgian...

  • Best Memories That Now Seem Like a Weird Dream: Club K

    2101 Maryland Ave. We first stumbled across Club K walking down 21st Street toward the Eagle, only to discover that it had succumbed to The Great Gay Bar Apocalypse of Baltimore. Luckily, we were drawn in by the neon lights and fog machine seeping under the door at Club K. The tiny bar was lit...

  • Best There Goes The Neighborhood: Hour Haus Closing

    135 W. North Ave., (410) 539-2328, thehourhaus.com Station North’s transition from an organically grown artist enclave to a landing spot for corporate bucks was a foregone conclusion to anyone even half paying attention. Even so, it’s been a bit dispiriting to slowly watch it happen over time,...

  • Best Save: Idle Hour

    201 E. Fort Ave., (410) 468-0357 The Idle Hour always felt like a nightlife anomaly: a corner bar that could have been crafted in Brooklyn near the frat-like quagmire of Federal Hill. It’s a place where you can sit in a low-lit space and listen to great music knowing that they probably sell more...

  • Best Outdoor Gambling: Horseshoe Casino

    1525 Russell St., (844) 777-7463, caesars.com/horseshoe-baltimore While we do fancy a nice afternoon at the rail of Pimlico, and many residents have used a neighborhood alley to shoot dice and enjoy a nice summer breeze, there’s nothing quite like the outdoor slot machines at the Horseshoe. Where...

  • Best Weekday Drunk: Two For Tuesday

    The Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., (410) 662-0069, theottobar.com Sometimes life just doesn’t wait and you need to get good and drunk on a school night. If by chance this happens on a Tuesday, get ye to Ottobar. The concept is pretty simple: Pay the regular price of one drink and two appear. But...

  • Best Place For Old People to Get Pissed at Young People: Mount Royal Tavern During Artscape

    1204 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 669-6686 Though we love the stalwart Tavern year-round, it’s always a hoot to go during Artscape on Friday. It’s great to watch as the young, unsuspecting crowds of the city’s biggest art festival try to muscle in on the surly regulars that line the bar stools. Old...

  • Best Reason to Drink Local: Louthan Distilling

    3005 Montebello Terrace, (443) 564-5514, louthandistilling.com Hidden in the back of Zeke’s Coffee is quite a small distillery that produces a big drink. Bourbon lover and engineer Len Louthan and his daughter Kelsey produce Louthan Distilling’s Oak-Aged Corn Whiskey. The spirit is aged in clear...

  • Best Shrine to Blaze Starr: The Midway

    421 E. Baltimore St., (410) 727-5054 After the death of Baltimore burlesque icon Blaze Starr, we took to Baltimore’s Block to find any traces of the former owner of the 2 O’Clock Club. Thankfully, The Midway Bar keeps several photos, from the ’40s up until the ’90s, of the deceased burlesque queen...

  • Best Late-Night Entertainment: Lucas Gerace aka The Most Marvelous

    Club Charles, 1724 N. Charles St., (410) 727-8815, clubcharles.us What do you do when you’re drunk and this guy in a tiny room at Club Charles makes lemons and limes appear suddenly as if out of thin air? You freak out and yell, then tip him extremely well. We’ve seen Gerace’s act numerous times...

  • Best Place to Make You Think Punk Is Dead: The Rockwell

    702 S. Broadway, (443) 835-1336, therockwellbaltimore.com We have to admit to not being too familiar with All Time Low, but after hearing that a local punker Jack Barakat of the Towson pop-punk band was taking over Vale Tudo in Fells, we were mildly excited. Not that we thought it would be the...

  • Best Yes Men: Larry Hogan's Liquor Board

    231 E. Baltimore St., #600, (410) 396-4377, baltimorecity.gov Lots of people, including outgoing Liquor Board Commissioner Thomas Ward, were worried pro-business Republican Gov. Larry Hogan would appoint a new liquor board that would revert to its old, ineffective ways. Those same critics pointed...

  • Best Closing Bar: The Hippo

      1 W. Eager St., (410) 547-0069, clubhippo.com It opened during the first Nixon administration, before there were gay people, or, if not that exactly, certainly before the era when gay people started feeling comfortable gathering in droves, and a few years before people decided that dancing was...

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