100 best Baltimore-area bars 2011: Critic's picks
When it comes to bars, Baltimore has long had a dizzying abundance of options. Our list last year of the city's best 50 barely scratched the surface. So, this year, we've expanded the list to 100.
Like last year, there's a critic's top 10, but the bars are split into 10 categories, including best clubs to go dancing and best bar to meet eccentrics. Ten of the bars have also been picked by you.
To choose the winners, we looked at bars that held events regularly, that attract crowds, whose prices are fair, and that provide consistent service. If we picked a bar for one category, it meant it couldn't be picked for another -- except for the readers' and critic's picks.
On this year's list, there are old favorites, lots of new names and bars in the areas surrounding Baltimore. Inevitably, there will be rumbling about who was left out. Sure, rankings are controversial, but they're a starting point to Baltimore's sprawling nightlife scene.
Also see: Going out guide: 100 best bars
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Critic's picks: Idle Hour
For the No. 1 critic's pick, it seemed appropriate to pick a bar that would have topped several of the other categories on this list. Idle Hour is that bar. It is an attractive meeting place for personalities -- the president of Chartreuse, the liqueur that's been made for 400 years by French Carthusian monks, made a rare appearance there once; DJs spin vinyl on some nights. With its moody lighting and classy cocktails, it's an ideal destination after dinner. Its beer and cocktails are unique; try the house specialty, Chartreuse, or the pickleback. The place is affordable. Service is impeccable, friendly and genuine. And, though, there may be more 'designed' places in town, Idle Hour has an inimitable style all of its own, and that distinction makes it the best.--Erik Maza
Venue address: 201 East Fort Ave.