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Bookmakers Cocktail Club to open second-floor bar Grey Ghost

Bookmakers Cocktail Club in Federal Hill plans to soon open a cocktail bar called Grey Ghost on its second floor, said general manager Ben Circelli.

The new concept, which will be open on weekends, comes from a practical need, Circelli said. Bookmakers is typically busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so the bar staff often doesn’t have time to fully engage customers about the bar program as much as they’d like. With only 10 bar stools, Grey Ghost should address such issues, Circelli said. 

“The whole idea is you’re getting a more intimate experience with our beverage director [Ryan Sparks] and other bartenders than you are downstairs on a typical Friday or Saturday,” he said.

Grey Ghost does not have an official opening date yet, but Circelli plans to open by May 6, the day of the Kentucky Derby. (Grey Ghost was the nickname of Native Dancer, the successful, Maryland-trained racehorse from the ‘50s.) 

The upstairs bar will operate Fridays and Saturdays to start, Circelli said. The approximately 1,100-square-foot space will have 30 seats at tables by the bar. 

Patrons will be able to reserve seats, if available, at the Grey Ghost before arriving, he said. Bar seating will be first come, first served. The Bookmakers dinner menu will be available upstairs, but at around 9 p.m., Grey Ghost will begin serving a cocktail menu exclusive to the second floor. 

Grey Ghost will serve as a space for “research and development” with bar recipes, according to Circelli. Cocktails will feature “more esoteric spirits” like barrel-aged gin and Japanese whiskeys, along with more intricate garnishes and different cordials, he said.

But it’s the heightened level of service from the bartenders that excites Circelli most.

“You’re going to be able to pick their brain,” he said. “They’re going to be able to talk you through every aspect of the cocktail." 

Bookmakers opened in the former Nevin’s space in September 2014. Read The Baltimore Sun’s bar review from then here.

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