As the head bartender and mixologist at B&O American Brasserie, Brendan Dorr, 34, has concocted drinks for every type of occasion for his restaurant's guests.
But in September, Dorr will have the chance that only 14 mixologists from around the country have: showcasing a concoction at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
The National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Channel are toasting to the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner with an event called Raise a Glass to History. The event consists of a gala, closed to the public, scheduled for Sept. 12.
For the event, mixologists from around the county were picked and instructed to create a cocktail historically relevant to the 1812 era and American-spirited. Dorr created a drink called the Line State Punch, which he believes is representative of Baltimore as well as the nation.
Dorr had contemplated designing a cocktail for the event, but decided against it in favor of creating punch. “I figured it would be much more enjoyable to do something simple and classic,” said Dorr by phone today. “It'll be nice to hand out to guests. When I’ve done punches in this style before they were very well received.”
According to Dorr, the beverage is a combination of the Diamondback, a classic cocktail and his nod to Baltimore, and a traditional punch that was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The Diamondback cocktail was named after the old Diamondback Lounge in the Lord Baltimore Hotel.
It took Dorr a few days to come up with the recipe. “I thought about the theme first,” he said. “Then I went ahead with using the Diamondback booze, which served as the cocktail, and poured in the rest of the punch.”
Dorr was chosen as one of the nation’s top mixologists for the event by renowned cocktail historian David Wondrich, in charge of overseeing the mixologists for the event. Wondrich is an award-winning author and one of the founders of the modern craft cocktail movement.
Dorr is the only bartender representative from Baltimore. “They reached out to me and said they had to have someone representing Baltimore,” said Dorr. The mixologist accepted the invitation without hesitation, calling the chance to work with Wondrich and the Smithsonian as a wonderful opportunity.
“I’ve never had a chance to showcase a drink at a museum before, at least I don’t think so,” he said. “It’ll be exciting. It’s an honor to be selected along with all these bartenders from around the U.S.”
All 14 mixologists (and 1 more to be chosen through a contest) will present and serve their cocktails at the Star-Spangled Banner Gala. According to the Raise a Glass website (raiseaglass.smithsonianchannel.com), the event will include mixology demonstrations, food, and dancing with proceeds going to the American Food History Project at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Want to try Dorr's Line State Punch at home? Here's the recipe:
—Oleo-saccharum (8 lemons & 1 cup sugar)*
—½ cup fresh lemon juice
—2½ cups Pikesville Rye Whiskey
—2½ cups Yellow Chartreuse
—2½ cups Laird’s 7½ yr. Old Apple Brandy
—4 cups The Tea Spot “Earl of Grey,” infused with ginger**
Combine oleo-saccharum and lemon juice in a 1-gallon punch bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar, and then add the remaining ingredients. Add large block ice to chill and grate nutmeg and cinnamon over the top. Serves 10-12 guests.
*Oleo-saccharum: Peel the 8 lemons with a vegetable peeler placing the peels in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and muddle the contents for 2-3 minutes. Allow the mixture to sit for 1 hour, stirring and muddling occasionally. Cover and refrigerate until ready for use.
** “Earl of Grey” infused with ginger: Cold brew 4 heaping tablespoons of The Tea Spot “Earl of Grey” tea into 4 cups of cold water. Take 1 small inch-long piece of fresh ginger root and zest it into the mixture. Allow mixture to steep for 2 hours minimum. For a stronger and bitterer taste, allow mixture to steep longer.