Bar Battle at Fork & Wrench

City Paper

2322 Boston St., (443) 759-9360, theforkandwrench.com

Bars throughout Charm City are eager to pull in weeknight drinkers and often offer late-night specials or other incentives, but few are as unique and entertaining as Fork & Wrench’s Thursday night Bar Battle, or Iron Bar, competition. 

Every Thursday night, bartenders at Fork & Wrench go head-to-head at 9 p.m. to create the best beverage using a secret ingredient revealed just before the start of the competition. From watermelon puree to prune juice, the secret ingredients range from what might seem deliciously easy to ridiculously challenging on a weekly basis. But with talented bartenders, the free shots of the cocktail concoctions are actually pretty good.

On a recent Thursday evening, Fork & Wrench’s bar was full with newcomers as well as those who clearly make this their Thursday go-to. As the clock struck 9 (or maybe 9:05 or 9:10—this is a pretty casual event), the week’s emcee, Shana, introduced regular bartender Jay Calvert and his competitor, visiting bartender Alec Franklin from Blue Pit BBQ and Whiskey in Hampden. 

With eight minutes set on the clock, the mystery ingredient was revealed: the vinegar-y, yet sweet-and-spicy Mae Ploy-brand Sweet Chilli Sauce. 

Mixing to mood-setting tunes such as ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and ‘Highway to the Danger Zone,’ both bartenders created citrus-y cocktails. Franklin’s incorporated botanical German gin, citrus syrup, and spice from the chili sauce along with two syrups—one lavender and one ginger. Calvert’s floral and simple concoction included Pikesville Rye, lemon juice, sugar, and Cynar, an artichoke liqueur. 

Battle complete and votes from those in the bar tallied, Franklin emerged victorious in Battle Sweet Chili Sauce. Really, though, it was all of us there to judge that were the winners. Fierce competition and free drinks—what more could you want on a Thursday night? 

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