Rye

STATS:

  • Cocktail Prices: $10 - $13
  • Address: 807 South Broadway, Fells Point, MD 21231
  • Hours: 5pm – 2am

I’ve been to Rye a handful of times but never really gave the bar a chance. You’d think a bar that prides itself on its craft cocktails would feel like home to me. And indeed I wanted to love it when the doors first open. But then something happened. That shy kid that I’ve worked so hard to shun showed up instead.

When I was younger I was socially awkward at times and had trouble making friends. If I met someone who I presumed to be a triple threat - smart, attractive, and hip - I’d immediately become turned off assuming this person would never like me. In other words I rejected them before they could reject me.

That’s exactly what happened when I met Rye. With its speakeasy style and shelves of booze I had never heard of; Rye is both hip and intelligent. How could I possibly belong?

Then one fateful evening I was introduced to bartender Eric Fooy by a mutual friend. Eric and I had crossed paths in the past, though neither of us remembered until later. With Eric’s invitation, I decided to give Rye another chance. It was an evening that would lead me down an educational path I did not see coming and I am forever grateful.

We started out by playing a game. (I’m pretty sure I made a dorky Matthew Broderick a la War Games, shall we play a game, joke at some point). Eric gave me several adjectives. I selected two and he built a cocktail based on my selection.

Adjectives: Booze Forward & Bright

Contains: Navy Strength Gin, Apricot, Lemon, Eggwhite, Aperol, and Soda

A light citrus cocktail that was both seasonal and refreshing. Despite my bartender sneaking in some Aperol, well aware of my aversion to the aperitif, I thoroughly enjoyed this cocktail. Egg whites tend to tone down strong flavors in a cocktail, so I was able to appreciate the bright orange flavor that Aperol contributes.  

This was also my first introduction to Navy Strength Gin, a class of British Gin with a proof of 100 or above. Navy  Strength Gin actually gave us the term “proof”. In order to “prove” that the gin was strong enough, gunpowder was doused with the gin. If the doused gunpowder did not ignite it was considered under proof.

Next, I was introduced to the best Manhattan I had ever had. I prefer bourbon in my Manhattan’s but on that night the bourbon was the last thing on my mind. I had never really given my choice of vermouth a second thought. I fell into the Martini & Rossi comfort zone and never thought to try other vermouths on for a size.

Carpano Antica is a serious vermouth for folks who take flavor and body seriously. In a Manhattan, Carpano Antica takes the lead dancing seductively with whiskey. Its full herbaceous body tickles the palate before finishing with a satisfying sweetness.

I left Rye that night with a smile on my face and an urge to learn more, try more. I now  have more than one bottle of sweet vermouth living in my refrigerator (yeah, you're supposed to keep it cold.) I also signed up for BarSmarts, an online course that will teach you more than you ever wanted to know about spirits and cocktails.

I also learned a lesson in not being intimidated. Behind its bright copper bar top, Rye is more like your hot geeky friend that has no clue he’s hot. A warm sole that’ll teach you about the economical and social effects of prohibition while also quoting lines from Back to the Future in the same breath (that last part is especially true since they recently had a movie night featuring you guessed it, Back to the Future.) I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of Rye in my future.