(Evan Siple, Baltimore Sun / May 7, 2014)

From the depths of downtown, mere feet from the Hippodrome Theater, Alewife has been delivering dozens of beers on tap and a dimly lit aesthetic that has stood the test of time.

It's primarily identified as a beer bar, but Alewife does indeed have a craft cocktail list put together in part by bartender Kelsea Zeglin with a bevy of house-made ingredients.

One of the more unusual cocktails on the list is the Spicy Suze, a libation that defies convention. It's roots are in the margarita, but it branches out in a few twists that make it worth a slurp. With the particularly smooth, premium Green Mountain organic vodka as a base, the colorful beverage features watermelon puree, simple syrup, lime juice and two very distinct finishers that set the Spicy Suze aside: a jalapeno lime salt rim and a pickled watermelon rind garnish.

It does sound strange, but this salt rim is not one to be skipped. The additional heat brought on by the sodium-based topper brings a surprise kick to the rest of the affair, an otherwise mellow sweet and sour combination. And as Zeglin put it best regarding the watermelon rind, "The sour [from the rind] gives a nice balance to that sweet and spicy element, it's one of my favorites."

The pickled watermelon is easily one of the strangest garnishes I've ever had on a cocktail. It has its own tangy sweetness that releases into the Spicy Suze and slowly changes the flavor as it sits. So take your time and enjoy the evolving flavor, or sip it quick and chomp down on the rind as a bonus finisher — either way the Spicy Suze is worth the American currency.

Aside from the classic pickle back or the Gibson, I haven't seen too many craft cocktails with a pickled garnish (or chaser), and with the Spicy Suze, Alewife has a bright future in providing a little something different in the drink department. My suggestion: habanero asparagus martini. Million dollar idea.

How to make the Spicy Suze

2 oz. Green Mountain vodka

Watermelon puree

Dash simple syrup

Dash lime juice

Jalapeno lime salt

Pickled watermelon rind

Rim glass with jalapeno lime salt. Combine vodka, simple syrup and lime juice in glass over rocks, top with watermelon puree. Garnish with pickled watermelon rind.

Where to get the Spicy Suze

$9, Alewife

21 N. Eutaw St., downtown

410-545-5112, alewifebaltimore.com