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Great Baltimore cocktails: The Paloma on the Harbor at Wit & Wisdom

I'm not sure whether the weather makes me want to drink in celebration of the new season or in escape from the old. Either way: It. Is. Spring, y'all.

Ah, it's the return of outdoor seating, of live music, a nice breeze off the water, and light, airy sips of cooling cocktails. The only problem is that everyone's got the same plan. Take this past weekend, for example: People were practically falling out of the windows or off bar balconies soaking in every ounce of summer sunshine and beverages that they could. Enter Wit & Wisdom's new(ish) Wit on the Water outdoor seating in Harbor East.

If you've ever happened upon the tavern, located in the Four Seasons, while walking harbor side, you've spotted their 85-seat patio and outdoor bar space and, likely, were jealous of patrons who'd nabbed seats with a panoramic view of the water. And then noted it for a return yourself, later. What you might not have known is that the scene, on Wednesdays, has the official Wit on the Water name. It even has official drinks — delicious, handcrafted, seasonally and locally specific cocktails. We'll (unofficially) call them "patio pounders," a term coined by lead bartender Aaron Joseph because they're so good it's easy to forget you're drinking a healthy helping of alcohol. At least, I did.

For those of you without an education in classic cocktails, La Paloma is "kind of like a Mexican margarita … but not. Similar to what Hemingway did to the Daiquiri," notes Joseph. Obviously, that means there's tequila involved. And salt. Traditionally, a Paloma is made using grapefruit flavored soda or even Sprite or Fresca. Joseph wanted to play up the same idea of a fizzy tequila cocktail but with a fresh, local twist. He's serving several pre-bottled beverages this season on menu, poured and garnished tableside, to give guests a unique experience.

But there's no prepackaged juice in his Paloma on the Harbor. Instead, he uses fresh grapefruits; and instead of a salted rim, he includes Old Bay in the mix.

A genius move, if this Maryland girl does say so herself.

I was surprised by how well the Old Bay seasoning worked with the grapefruit and tequila. In fact, dare I say, it works better than salt does for a Margarita. Joseph suggests it's the celery root in the Bay that punches up the sweet and sour of the lime juice, agave syrup and grapefruit. I say it's just the fact that my favorite summer seasoning is infused in there. Either way, the result is an extremely approachable, smooth little sipper — or, well, pounder.

How To Make The Paloma on the Harbor (by the glass; not pre-bottled)

1 1/2 oz. Silver tequila

1 oz. fresh grapefruit

1/2 oz. of lime juice

1/2 oz. agave syrup

1/4 oz. of Old Bay

Stir ingredients together; top with club soda.

Where to Get The Paloma on the Harbor

200 International Drive, Harbor East



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