I believe it was Edgar Allan Poe who once mused, "The happiest day -- the happiest hour/ My sear'd and blighted heart hath known … is sipping liquor from a copper mug."
All right, maybe I'm winging it there just a little, but that line is the inspiration behind a quiet little bar that opened up inside the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront a few months ago: Apropoe's. Could there be a more aptly named tribute to our adopted son than that?
Witty, they certainly are. But what really sets this hotel bar apart is the quality of ingredients and the nice selection of craft cocktails on menu. Several are cleverly named, Poe-themed concoctions and yet director of restaurants Robin Richmond and her team are careful not to pigeonhole (or is it Ravenhole?) themselves as a novelty. Instead, they've managed to include a variety of drinks that are just really tasty, not kitschy. My favorite, the Summer Berry Mule, is representative of Richmond's mantra on creating cocktails. "My passion … comes from shifting around ingredients in a common drink to include seasonal elements," said Richmond. "I start out by looking at basic ingredients: the liquor, the sweet, the citrus and the herbs that blend well with various flavors. If I want to do something different and innovative I look at the latest beverage trends and try to incorporate them into a drink on our cocktail list."
The Summer Berry Mule is a fresh take on the classic Moscow Mule. Sweet, spicy and tart mingle in a classic copper mug we've come to associate with Mules. The base — Tito's vodka — is a smart choice for any fruit-infused drink, providing a smooth, subtle foundation. What's interesting about Apropoe's take on a Mule, aside from the berries, is the proportion of ingredients: a double dose of ginger and a full ounce of fresh-squeezed lime juice. The Summer Berry Mule is mixed with a house-made, ginger-infused simple syrup and then topped with ginger beer, an ever-growing ingredient on the beverage scene.
The juice is also made in house — a nod to the fresh ingredients the bar tries to incorporate into every drink. But let's not forget about the berries. They really aren't a garnish; they're crucial to the Mule's flavoring, breaking down well in the lime juice as the drink sits. Save them for last and savor the tanginess.
"People often think of Edgar Allan Poe as a dark, dreary person," said Richmond. She and her staff are quick to note that while Apropoe's pays homage to the writer, the bar's atmosphere and take on cocktails is much livelier. You'll find Poe quotes and even a Poet's Corner around the bar — a far cry from weak, weary and depressed.
Something tells me that if Poe were to have stumbled in, he would have gladly ordered a Summer Berry Mule, championing its charming creativity.
Maybe a few summery cocktails would've changed his outlook, forevermore.
How to make a Summer Berry Mule
1 1/2 oz. Tito's Vodka
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. Ginger Simple Syrup
Combine first five ingredients with ice in a large shaker; shake 20 times and pour into a copper mug with the ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with a raspberries and blackberries
Where to Get a Summer Berry Mule
700 Aliceanna St., Harbor East