Patrick E. “Eric” Myers, the longtime popular Mount Royal Tavern mixologist who dispensed his philosophical riffs on life and culture as liberally as he poured beer and shots for patrons, died May 11 from complications of a heart condition at his East Baltimore home. He was 57.
“Like some of the hard-edged bartenders at the hard-edged Mount Royal Tavern, Eric was a no nonsense, matter of fact, down to business professional who manned his post at the Tavern for 25 years,” Charles Vascellaro, a Bolton Hill writer, wrote in an email.
“I’ve known him the entire 20 years I’ve lived in Bolton Hill and developed an appreciation for his complex personality and probing intellect over the years. When I first encountered Eric I was intimidated by his gruff demeanor as everyone else is at first,” he wrote. “He did not suffer fools gladly and you didn’t want to screw up or breach bar etiquette in front of him. You wanted him on your side. He would call people out loudly for their bad behavior and make an example of them for others not to follow.”
Chloe M. Vaughan, a Mount Vernon resident, was a novice bartender when Mr. Myers hired her in 2006 to work the bar’s door.
“As I got to know him, I fell totally head over heels in love. He was so fun and interesting and so smart,” Ms. Vaughan wrote in an email. “He walked me home at night. He never let me walk alone. He never let anything bad happen to me. He never let anyone look at me sideways.”
She added: “The thing about Eric is that he crushed egos. He didn’t do it to be mean, but he had to literally destroy your ego in order to reach you on an emotional and intellectual level without artifice. He hated artifice. He love invention, even novelty, but nothing superficial or pretentious.”
Ann M. Vornbrock met Mr. Myers 36 years ago at a party.
'It was at a party. I was 16 and he was 21. I was sitting on the hood of a car. Two days later we started dating," recalled Ms. Vornbrock, a Columbia resident. “Eric was brilliant. He was absolutely the most intelligent person I’ve ever met in my life. He was hilarious and loved the absurd."
Patrick Erickson Myers, son of George Patrick Myers, manager of the Social Security Administration’s disability program, and his wife, Diane Georgia Myers, a registered nurse, was born in Baltimore and raised in Ellicott City.
After graduating in 1981 from Howard High School, he attended the University of Montana in Missoula for a year, then transferred to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, from which he earned both a bachelor’s degree in 1986 in philosophy and music, and a master’s degree in 1987 in ethnomusicology. He had completed the academic course work for a Ph.D., also at UMBC, but had not written his dissertation.
“He was a great guitarist and could play anything from classical music to contemporary,” Ms. Vornbrock said. “He had a wide range.”
Mr. Myers also played the cello, banjo and a variety of percussion and string instruments.
Mr. Myers, who lived on Hope Street in East Baltimore, began working at the Mount Royal Tavern, a mecca for Maryland Institute College of Art students as well as denizens of Bolton Hill who appreciate its eclectic vibe. For many, its has been their home away from home since it served its first drink in 1941.
“The Tavern is a neighborhood joint frequented by an eclectic and eccentric array of regulars and curious newcomers cutting a swath across a wide-demographic,” Mr. Vascellaro wrote. "It takes a little while to understand and develop an appreciation for the place and Eric epitomized the bar’s unique charm and character."
Mr. Vascellaro recalled the time Mr. Myers overheard a patron on a cellphone say they were “slumming at the Tavern.”
“Eric immediately yelled at the top of his lungs for everyone to hear. ‘Hey this guy says he’s “slumming here!" ' A low rumbling disapproving murmur rolled from one end of the bar to the other and everyone cast a disapproving glance at the perpetrator,” he wrote. “It was great.”
He taught Ms. Vaughan, who later became his girlfriend, the ins and outs of bartending and how to put up with patrons who may have had a little too much to drink without resorting to any violent confrontations.
“He abhorred violence,” she wrote. “He was the true ringmaster of of comedy and tragedy in the bar. A quick wit and a tongue silvered by years spent in the bar crushing egos and telling cruel facts. Many thought he was being mean. He wasn’t. He just saw things as plain as day. He felt a sense of duty to make others self-aware.”
Mr. Myers’ favorite drink, according to Ms. Vaughan, was what he called his “Pirate Juice,” a concoction of all the “rums and all the juices in his special proportions” she wrote in a subsequent email.
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Gifted with a devilish sense of humor, Mr. Myers carried a red rubber nose, which he’d place on his nose whenever a situation arose that required its use. He even drew a red nose on his Maryland driver’s license.
“This caused an interesting conversation with a highway patrolman when he was stopped going over the speed limit on Route 40 outside of Baltimore,” his mother said in a telephone interview. “He still did get a ticket.”
Jim Burger, a Baltimore photographer and Remington resident, has been a longtime patron of the bar.
“When the history of the Mount Royal Tavern is written, there will certainly be a chapter on its curmudgeonly bartenders,” Mr. Burger said. “It is not a phenomenon unique to the Mount Royal Tavern, other bars have them, but there, they were the main event. Eric would rate near the top, always with his trademark scowl. And like so so many of his compatriots, it was simply part of the act. Underneath it all, he was just a big softie.”
“He could be gruff at times but those who knew him, liked him,” his father said.
No services are planned at this time.
In addition to his parents of Hickory, North Carolina, Mr. Myers is survived by a brother, John Gunnar Myers of Hickory; and a sister, Georgia Ann Myers of Richmond, Virginia.