Hampden's Alchemy may have one of the tiniest upstairs bars in Baltimore. But there are some serious, high-end cocktails being crafted in this small space.
Dubbed "Potions" (see what they did there?), the cocktail menu features an extensive selection of hand-crafted and tweaked blends of traditional drinks that demonstrate a lot of care, craftsmanship and, best of all, lots of flavor. "It's fun, I love doing it. We find what's trending and give it our own twist," said bartender Matthew Ballinger. At the top of the list of Ballinger's twisted takes: the Antigua Stiletto.
The Stiletto is a variation on the Old Fashioned, normally be considered a fairly basic drink consisting of whiskey, orange bitters, simple syrup and cherry garnish. But Alchemy's Old Fashioned is anything but old fashioned.
The base of Maker's Mark is essentially the only thing normal about the drink. The simple syrup has been infused with a chipotle kick, giving the drink a signature smokiness and heat. Mole bitters and a muddled orange wheel provide a heavy dose of citrus and spices. Even the garnish, traditionally a Maraschino cherry, has been replaced by the far superior Rainier cherry, which are soaked in bourbon to add tart, robust little bits of enjoyment. The sweetness, smokiness, strength of the bourbon and citrus notes all blend together to form a layered, well-accomplished drink with a kick of heat you'll want to spend your time enjoying.
"It's my baby," Ballinger said about his creation. "I make more of that than anything else." And for good reason it would seem. The Antigua Stiletto is one heck of a twist on a timeless classic.
How to make the Antigua Stiletto
3 oz. Maker's Mark
2 oz. simple syrup (or home-made chipotle syrup)
1 muddled orange wheel, sugar cube, orange bitters to taste
Shake with ice, strain over ice. Garnish with cherries and orange twist.
Where to get the Antigua Stiletto
1011 W. 36th St, Hampden