In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner, the Smithsonian Channel and the National Museum of American History created “Raise A Glass to History.” The Smithsonian chose 14 mixologists from around the country to create a patriotic cocktail and Baltimore’s own Brendan Dorr of B&O American Brasserie was one of those chosen.
Brendan’s cocktail – Line State Punch – is a combination of the Diamondback cocktail from the Diamondback Lounge in the Lord Baltimore Hotel and a popular punch from the early 1800s. The recipe represents Baltimore as well as the libations that were in vogue when the Star-Spangled Banner flew over Fort McHenry. He chose applejack because it can be dated back to the time of George Washington and rye was one of our country’s earliest expressions of whiskey with roots originating in Maryland. Also, probably because it’s just delicious.
Dorr and his fellow bartenders will showcase their cocktail creations, at the “Star-Spangled Gala” at the National Museum of American History in September. And recently, Brendan and mixologists from all over converged on classic cocktail mecca, New Orleans, for Tales of the Cocktail – the world’s premier cocktail festival. The event brings together the international spirits community for five days of what’s now, what’s new and what’s next in bartending. Tales of the Cocktail gives bartenders and spirits professionals opportunities to mix and mingle with the brightest minds in mixology during an always-spirited docket of seminars, dinners, competitions, tasting rooms and new product launches. Sounds fun – and exhausting!
Brendan Dorr has been such a quiet rock star on the local Baltimore cocktail scene. I wanted to check in with him and see what keeps him feeling current, motivated and excited about cocktails these days.
What is the latest trend in cocktails that you really like? and what would you like to see go away?
BD: The trend I am seeing and liking lately is my colleagues are bottling and canning craft cocktails for retail sales. Pretty cool stuff.
I would really love to see the skinny cocktails and questions about how many calories does that cocktail/beverage have go away. Just drink and enjoy!
How do you see the cocktail scene in Baltimore changing over the next few years?
BD: Baltimore has already changed its drinking habits. I hope to see the more casual bars take on simple things like fresh juices and good cocktail technique, this way ordering a margarita wouldn’t be so scary. I believe we’ll see more cocktail bars and much more casual ones.
If someone is setting up a home bar, what are the basics they should have?
BD: A good home bar needs basic tools – shaking tins, bar spoon, mixing glass, a jigger with measurements, a strainer or two, muddler, a hand juicer, and a small selection of glassware for different drinks. Then a variety of booze of course and don’t forget the bitters.
Where in Baltimore do you like to go for drinks?
BD: I have a long list for a variety of beverages in Bmore, but my post-work libations come from Maisy’s and Jesse, a former bartender of mine is making some great cocktails.
You were just down in New Orleans at the annual Tales of the Cocktails. What’s that like? What are your favorite bars in new orleans?
BD: Tales of the Cocktail is exciting and dangerous. Lots of cocktails to consume and fellow barmen to chat up. I love the French 75 bar at Arnaud’s. Cozy and classy. I also love the Art Deco decor of the Sazerac bar in the Roosevelt Hotel.
What is your latest obsession ingredient in cocktails?
BD: Amaro Nonino. It’s been my favorite amaro for years and lately I put it in as many cocktails as I can.
What do you love about Baltimore?