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At the top of each newsletter, I like to share a favorite photo I've taken. I took this photo on the fly as I walked around The Milton Inn as it was about to open to the public. The folks at Foreman Wolf were kind enough to include me in on a "friends and family" preview night. It was a wonderful night. Honestly, I loved it all — the French hunting lodge decor, the food, the service, cocktails and wine. I love this photo of a young employee running food out to the dining room. A classic restaurant scene. I never take these experiences for granted.
Whether drinking less or not drinking at all, you finally have more options
                                                                                                                            photo cred: Seedlip
The world of booze-free cocktails is changing very, very quickly, friends. 

Gone are the days of your only non-alcoholic (NA) options at a bar or restaurant — or at home for that matter — being soda, iced tea, water, juice, etc. Boring. So limited! But, with the rise of "mindful drinking" (Dry January, Sober October and beyond) lots of exciting new NA products are entering the market. These delicious products are useful to both bartenders and home drink mixers. Sometimes when I talk about this subject, people will think I am talking about canned, ready-to-drink products. And while there are a lot of canned NA drinks on and entering the market, I'm really more interested in bottles of NA "spirits", which are often created to emulate a specific spirit like whiskey, gin and tequila. And there are some really good ones out there! 

I bought a bottle of Seedlip "Grove 42" at The Wine Source and I've been enjoying playing around with it. I love citrusy (but not sweet) drinks, so this spirit is really up my alley. And it's pretty versatile, so I also have lots of non-citrus NA drinks on my to-do list. Other brands I am planning to try:



Some canned/bottled cocktail brands I have enjoyed very much are from Curious Elixirs, Ghia and Ish. And, there are more...so the taste testing continues. I also highly recommend Element Shrubs, either mixed into cocktails or on its own over ice with some tonic water. 

Stay tuned for new NA cocktail events in Baltimore. I recently met with some of my favorite bartenders (all women 🤘🏼) and we are planning some tasting and educational events for the public to attend. It's all very TBD! And, get ready...I hear that an exclusively non-alcoholic bottle shop will be opening later this year in Fell's Point. It will be the first in Maryland. In addition to these nice cocktail options, I'm sure they will sell NA beer and wine, too.  I've tried some really delicious beers — I especially Athletic and Untitled Art.

The main point I want to get across to you is this: the NA drinks thing — and also low-alcohol drinks for that matter — is absolutely not a trend. Please don't call it trendy or hipster. This is very important to people who do not drink. And you don't have to be a 100% non-drinker to embrace this. You could be taking a break from drinking, pregnant or the designated driver. It's all good. 

Coming up in a future newsletter: best NA cocktails at Baltimore bars and restaurants. 
Not to be missed. Get to one of these fantastic dinners. 
While my friend Chef Tae Strain is looking for his next restaurant space to open, he's doing lots of pop-ups and collaborations with fellow chefs. Really fun stuff! In April, he's doing a dinner with Chef Chris Scanga and Jon Shaw of Karma Farm at The Milton Inn on 4/12 (call 410-771-4366 for tickets) and two dinners at Black Ankle Vineyards with Tyler Johnson Johnson of JBGBs on 4/22 and Chris Amendola of Foraged on 4/23. Be sure to follow Ggoma on Instagram.

Just yesterday, a really great memory popped up on Facebook. It was from my first visit to Tae's "Demi" pop-up at Crush (Belvedere Square) in 2011. Did you ever go? It was so good, still one of my best food memories to this day. I distinctly remember sitting at the kitchen watching Tae and his sous working — my first time experiencing that kind of dining experience. I'm always saying this: when you look back at a meal, the overall experience is important, not just the food and drinks. The service, the vibe, the people and yes...the food and drink. All of it. 

Read a little more about Tae from Eater HERE. He's the best!
Finally back in Baltimore!
All you need to know here is that the most amazing croissants are now available at Roggenart — corner of Allegheny and Washington — in Towson. I went a few weeks ago and it's nice and big, with lots of seating. GO.
Ground & Griddled owner opening a new coffee shop in Hampden
Really, really good coffee is coming back to Hampden. I still miss Spro. But at least now I am comforted by the fact that Dave Sherman is opening Catalog Coffee on the Avenue this summer. You may know Dave from Ground & Griddled at R. House and big fave of locals, Café Cito. If you remember the restaurant Nasu Blanca that Dave and his friend Christian Ciscle owned in Locust Point back in the day, you win extra Baltimore points. 

Very excited for all the caffeine!
This very talented chocolatier opening her own space in Waverly
                                                                                                         photo: swiped from Jinji's IG
Jinji is one of my favorite people — in food, out of food. She's just the best person. When you're with Jinji, she makes your day instantly brighter. Her delicious and creative chocolate (all raw and free of dairy and gluten) have been featured by The Michelin Guide, Bon Appétit, Eater and lots more. She's been at Belvedere Square Market for many years and recently announced that they'd be moving into a new home along Greenmount Avenue, just around the corner from the 32nd Street Farmers Market. Can't wait to visit the new shop. Follow Jinji on Instagram to stay in the loop!

AND...Jinji was recently featured on an episode of Magnolia Network's "Family Dinner", hosted by Andrew Zimmern, along with her family and her friends from Neopol Smokery. You can watch the episode on HBO Plus and Discovery Plus.

New tapas restaurant featuring a familiar face
                                                                                                photo: Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun
Chef Bernard (remember...Corner BYOB, Corner Charcuterie Bar) is back! No, not a Belgian restaurant, rather a new concept in the former Rowhouse space (1400 Light Street) in South Baltimore. According to Amanda Yeager of the Sun, Octobar's menu will be tapas-focused and Chef Bernard will also be featuring some old favorites from his popular Hampden restaurant — hooray! Sangria and cocktails, along with ceviche, mussels, tartare and lots more. The restaurant's name is a nod to Bernard's partner in the project Octavio Vasquez, a longtime bartender with Atlas. Read more HERE.
Beer Garden is Finally Opening in Hampden
The Hampden Yards project seems to have been in the works for a very long time and it's finally opening. Veteran bartender Shawn Stewart (Bar Licorice, Elk Room, JBGBs...) is heading up the bar program. I don't know a lot of details but May 5 is listed online as their opening day. 
REMINDER: All past newsletters are available on my website HERE

There were some other items I wanted to write about (lots of food news lately) but not enough time! Maybe I'll write more often for a little while. We'll see. . . .

I updated my Dining Guide again this week -- I added a very new restaurant to the "New and Not So New Classics" category! Go see . . . 

As always, please do forward this onto your friends who love Baltimore and food.

Thank you so much,

xo - 


Amy Langrehr
Charm City Cook
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