B is for Bartenders

Today was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm in a way that February in Baltimore has no right to be. I’m used to this lion-and-lamb stuff in March, but in early February it’s premature and inappropriate. For example, it briefly seemed counterintuitive to huddle in a dark wood bar and drink dark beers at Bartenders.

I considered rearranging my plans in favor of something sunnier, but that was an exercise in futility. B was a star-crossed letter. The highly flexible rules of the AHH are that the bar must fit into alphabetical order (duh) and ideally be a place I have not been before. These criteria eliminate crowd favorites such as Brewer’s Art, Bertha’s, Birds of a Feather and the Brass Elephant because I’ve been there many a time.

On the flip side, there’s an unlikely preponderance of crappy bars beginning with b in Baltimore — Bay Cafe, Blarney Stone, Bert’s, Bar, Bad Decisions, and Babalu Grill — that I was perfectly fine with never having visited. So with the help of the fine people at the chow.com boards, I zeroed in on Bartenders in Canton. It was a perfect fit. Dark and quiet on a Monday night and staffed with knowing bartenders, it was the perfect place to fill up on beer and pizza with two friends and gossip incessantly about the other two who did not show up. For the rare lulls in conversation, there was Big East basketball on the TV. Perfect.

Bartenders features $6 pizzas on Monday night, a steal any day of the week, especially if you’re pinching pennies during the Economic End Times. My cohorts and I chowed down on a Garden Pie (regularly $11) and were satisfied. If we’d been feeling greedy, another one might have been in order, but we chose to guzzle our calories rather than gobble them. To this end, we quizzed the bartender about the impressive and ever-rotating selection of microbrews on tap and settled on Unibroue Maudite. This Canadian concoction tasted faintly of cloves and Christmas without any cloying richness. As the sun slipped down over the water and a chill slid into the evening air, it was the perfect choice for a winter evening.

Lest Bartenders appear too fancy-pants for your liking, fear not. When I queried the bartender about the management’s process of selecting the impressive range of beers on tap, he responded: “Whatever the fuckin’ drunks keep drinking, we keep ordering.”

So noted, good sir. See you next Monday, or possibly Tuesday, when Bartenders has a taco special. Or on Sunday for the shrimp special. But sometime soon, I’m sure.

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