America’s “Best Bar”

If you haven’t heard by now that Brewer’s Art in Mt. Vernon was named best bar in America by Esquire, then you have probably been living under a rock, or worse, not in Baltimore.

On one level, I completely understand giving this honor to Brewer’s Art. As readers of Bohs and O’s know, we are prone to dismiss “guido” and “douchey” bars while waxing lyrical about “real” Baltimore dives and taverns. Brewer’s Art has the wonderful qualities of a classic Baltimore spot-exposed brick, dimmed lights, diverse clientele, and it also offers better food, better beer, and better (or at least darker) ambiance than your average drinkery. I could go into further detail about what makes Brewer’s Art great (e.g. rosemary fries and resurrections), but that seems unnecessary when it is already the “best bar in America.”

However, I disagree with Brewer’s Art being best the bar in America for one simple reason-the service. I don’t know about you readers, but at my imaginary “best bar,” the waitstaff doesn’t make fun of how I’m dressed or accuse me of stealing to compensate for their own inability to get an order right. I’m not even kidding- the waitress/bartender delivered the wrong food to me and my friends, then when we ate the fries, and she accused us of stealing. Sorry, but we didn’t feel like waiting an hour and a half for her to figure out how to wait tables.

Like I said, the Esquire award is old news, but more recently Baltimore Magazine has published a top 25 bars in Baltimore list that prompted me to write this article. I don’t disagree with Brewer’s being on the list, in fact I think it absolutely deserves to be, but what gets me is that the article makes a point of how humble the bar staff is and talks about their “down to earth” reaction to the Esquire award. Sneering at diners and purposely ignoring people at the bar isn’t my idea of humble service.  Maybe success has gone to their heads or maybe Brewer’s Art bartenders have always had a cooler-than-you attitude. Either way, if you go to Brewer’s art and are not a hipster intellectual, expect to be treated pretty poorly by the waitstaff.

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