Gone are the days when eggnog and mulled cider were the only holiday cocktails to choose from. This year, Baltimore bars and restaurants are embracing the holiday spirit with more crafty seasonal cocktails. Eggnog is still a prime option, but bartenders are getting creative with ingredients and adding a festive flair.
Here are a few places to find local libations during the holiday season.
Candy Cane Mimosa at Lew Gambino’s
236 S. High St., Baltimore 21202, (410) 685-7733, lewgambinos.com
Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis recently started a new business venture in the form of a restaurant rehab in Little Italy. The former restaurant, Ciao Bella, now has a new name and menu revamp thanks to Lewis. In addition to the tasty new dishes, the bar staff has stepped up their game with a few holiday cocktail creations. The current must-order cocktail on the menu is the Candy Cane Mimosa, a unique blend of champagne, peppermint schnapps, and club soda. Garnished with a crushed candy cane rim and another cane inside the drink, it’s peppermint-forward with a bubbly twist. Not to be excluded from the list, Lew Gambino’s also added a Gingerbread Eggnog made with vodka and Kahlua eggnog topped with whipped cream and garnished with a cinnamon sugar-rimmed martini glass. The eggnog is a little on the sweet side but it’s great if you enjoy dessert cocktails.
The Crumpet at Old Major
900 S. Carey St., Baltimore 21223, (443) 873-7363, oldmajorbaltimore.com
Old Major is a small neighborhood bar making a big impression. The bar program is robust, and veteran Baltimore bartenders can make creative cocktails on the spot—however, their featured holiday cocktail was planned and curated specifically for a play that ran during the beginning of December in the bar’s upper-level event space. The Crumpet cocktail was named after the main character in the Charm City Classics Company play Santaland Diaries. Made with Baltimore Spirit Company’s Shot Tower Gin, elderflower liqueur, crème de menthe, lemon and demerara syrup, the cocktail is cool and crisp with a mesmerizing color.
Glitterally Cran-Tastic at Gunther & Co.
Gunther & Co.
3650 Toone St., Baltimore 21224, (443) 869-6874, eatatgunther.com
The Glitterally Cran-Tastic cocktail is not only delicious but beautiful as well. Garnished with red, ripe cranberries, sparkly glitter, and a sprig of rosemary, this cocktail could be called Christmas in a Cup. You’ll get that festive feeling with the first sip of this stunner made with Patron tequila, Rainwater Madeira wine, cranberry-rosemary hibiscus tea, apple cider, tamarind and lemon juice, served in a limited-edition Patron honeycomb tiki mug.
Eggnog Float at Tavern at the Admiral (photo via Facebook)
Tavern at the Admiral
888 S. Broadway, (410) 522-7380, admiralfell.com
For the ninth year in a row, bartender Steve Mavronis has won the Fells Point Neighborhood Eggnog Contest. Mavronis is a legend, and his eggnog—made from fresh eggs (we know because he showed us cartons in the fridge)—is always a fan favorite. This year, Mavronis created an Eggnog Float with classic eggnog, house-made eggnog ice cream, whipped cream, and a Guinness stout floater. It’s garnished with a gingerbread cookie, peppermint Hershey kiss, and a candy cane, so it’s no wonder Tavern at the Admiral took home the first-place prize.
Santa’s Little Helper at Owl Bar (photo via Instagram)
1 E. Chase St., Baltimore 21202, (410) 347-0888, theowlbar.com
It wouldn’t be a holiday without hot chocolate! The Owl Bar in Mount Vernon’s famous Belvedere Hotel has created Santa’s Little Helper, made with hot chocolate, Jägermeister, cold-brew coffee, and topped with whipped cream. With the shot of coffee, this cocktail will help you with the needed pick-me-up during the holiday rush.
Apropoe’s holiday cocktails (photo via Instagram)
700 Aliceanna St., Baltimore 21202, (410) 895-1879
Holiday martinis are the featured cocktails at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel bar Apropoe’s. The beverage director created three specialty cocktails that embrace the flavors of the holiday. The Smore’s Crunch packs a punch with a crumbled graham cracker rim and creamy marshmallow flavored vodka. The Peppermint Patty is also a cream-based cocktail, made with peppermint schnapps. And if you’re looking for something without cream, the Apple Spice Beam is ideal: a whiskey cocktail with a crisp, apple twist.
Create Your Own Cocktail
Recipes by Baltimore bartender and beverage consultant Aaron Joseph
1.5 oz. VDKA 6100 vodka
0.5 oz. Lime juice
0.75 oz Spiced cranberry syrup
2 oz. Ginger beer
Garnish with rosemary and cranberries skewered
2 oz. Apple cider
1.5 oz. Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum
0.5 oz. Lime juice
0.5 oz. Cinnamon syrup
Aaron Joseph’s craft cocktail set-up
Photos by the author except where otherwise noted.