How did it start?
Well, I was sick of standing on the sidelines, watching everybody else - City Paper, Baltimore magazine, AOL City Guide - give out awards every year for Best This and Best That.
I wanted to hand out my own awards and promote my blog, Midnight Sun (baltimoresun.com/midnightsun), in the process. But I was tired of the same establishments winning the same awards year after year.
Then, inspiration struck me like a shot of whiskey on an empty stomach: I would make up my own wacky categories, have a wild-looking certificate drawn up and name the award series something over the top. I dubbed the honors the Best of the Best of the Best Awards (it's a line from the movie Men in Black) and created more than 20 gleefully sarcastic categories. I presented these awards last week at a party at the Brewer's Art called the Midnight Sun Shindig.
Here are 10 of the first Midnight Sun Best of the Best of the Best Awards, complete with brief explanations of how each place earned its award:
* Best In-House DJs and Pickle Backs: Idle Hour (201 E. Fort Ave.)
The "in-house DJs" part is pretty self-explanatory. But have you ever heard of a Pickle Back? It's a shot of Jameson followed with a shot of dill-pickle juice. Believe it or not, the pickle juice wipes the whiskey sting right out of your mouth. Since the Idle Hour is the only Baltimore bar that offers the shot (at least as far as I know), it wins Best Pickle Backs.
* Most Awkward Time and Place to be Handed a Condom: Lunchtime at RA Sushi (1390 Lancaster St.)
If you've never been to RA Sushi, you're missing out on one of the weirdest gimmicks to hit Baltimore. As part of their marketing ploy, the folks at RA Sushi hand out matchbooks that contain condoms. As you can imagine, this is an incredibly off-putting experience. Appetites have been ruined, I'm told. Terrible stuff, really.
* Coldest Bathrooms: Friends (1634 Aliceanna St.)
Even in the summertime, you can see your breath in the bathroom at Friends. Well, the men's bathroom, at least; I've never been in the women's bathroom. I don't know why, but the men's room seems to be some kind of black hole for heat. Are there any scientists out there who can explain this phenomenon?
* Most Redundantly Named New Bar: Muggsy's Mug House (1236 Light St.)
* Best Place to Get Assaulted by a Bridal Shower: Power Plant Live
Usually, you can hear the pack of wild bridesmaids before you see it. Just be careful; it strikes with astonishing speed. If you don't flee fast enough, you will be surrounded by a group of tipsy troublemakers. No good can come of this.
* Best Bar for Day Drinking: Woody's Rum Bar & Island Grill (1700 Thames St.)
In a word, "Ahh." That's what you say when you're perched on a bar stool at Woody's on a warm Saturday afternoon with a cold drink in your hand.
* Best "Who's On First" Franchise: Don't Know Tavern (1453 Light St.) and No Idea Tavern (1649 S. Hanover St.)
I have had some pretty confusing conversations due to the names of these South Baltimore bars. I bet I'm not alone here.
* The Best Brew Pub in all of Mount Vernon: The Brewer's Art (1106 N. Charles St.)
Since there are just so, so many brew pubs in the neighborhood, this was a really tough one. Hee hee.
* We Can't Stand Hipsters But We Keep Coming Back: Club Charles (1724 N. Charles St.)
It's all too true. The clientele may look down at me, but that will never keep me from soaking in the scene at the venerable Club Charles.
* Most Maniacal Laugh: Joe Edwardsen of Joe Squared Pizza (133 W. North Ave.)
Have you ever told Edwardsen a joke or been in the room when someone has told him one? "Laugh" is too modest a word. It's more of a head-tilted-back, hands-on-chest guffaw. Now, it's an award-winning guffaw.
Congrats to all the winners of the 2009 Best of the Best of the Best Awards. The next time you're at one of these watering holes, look for the award.
If you don't see it, send me an e-mail. I'll give the bar owner a hard time for not prominently hanging it. After all, the Best of the Best of the Best Awards deserve to be seen by all.