Great Baltimore cocktails: The Downton Abbey at Bar Liquorice

For The Baltimore Sun

A cocktail bar in South Baltimore new to the scene, Bar Liquorice recently had a soft opening.

It has been tweaking its dimly lit lounge aesthetic thanks to one Jeff Cahill, previously of Helen's Garden/John Stevens LTD while co-owner Tom Looney of Gypsy Queen food truck and Helen's Garden fame has been building the food menu.

With these two realms in good hands, the cocktail list should be soon to follow. And indeed, Bar Liquorice has a noteworthy cocktail program featuring the time-honored "modern twists on the classics," from New Old-Fashioneds to Manhattans and Moscow Mule variants. Bartender Shaun Stewart assembles the drinks while developing his own creations. He's a dedicated mixologist providing a promising future for the small establishment and its place in the city's cocktail lounge community.

And what better way to get classy with it than to sample some of Bar Liquorice's finer scotch offerings, such as this cocktail named after the TV show.

The Downton Abbey is an adept creation with several layers of sophistication. A base of Dewar's Scotch whisky is blended with a house-made honey syrup and freshly grated ginger. That makes a cocktail that would stand well enough on its own. But the coup de grace lies in a top layer of Laphroaig single malt, a highly prized scotch from the isle of Islay. Laphroaig's 10-year is peaty and smoky.

The smokiness blending with sweet and ginger is a great palate experience. I'd rub a bit of lemon on the rim for a citrus pop, but your tastes may vary.

Despite the fact that the cocktail list was conceived before his arrival, Stewart has "tinkered with the Downton Abbey repeatedly, and this is the way to go," he said. Stewart will be introducing another 14 to 15 cocktails to the list in coming weeks as he perfects them.

If the final version of the Downton Abbey is any indication, they'll be worth a try, one and all. Kudos.

How to make the Downton Abbey

2 oz. Dewar's Scotch whiskey

1 oz. honey syrup

Freshly grated ginger

Laphroaig single malt to top

Combine Dewar's and honey syrup over ice, shake and strain into martini glass. Grate fresh ginger to taste, top with Laphroaig single malt.

Where to get the Downton Abbey

Bar Liquorice

801 E. Fort Ave., Riverside



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