Cocktail enthusiasts and art lovers now have a standout space to come together. Baltimore Spirits Company opens its new Cocktail Gallery on July 30. Part tasting room and part art gallery, the new space welcomes guests to explore work by local artists while enjoying tasty libations made with the distillery’s spirits.
“We believe that spirit making is a creative endeavor, and we’ve always tried to be a part of the creative scene in Baltimore,” says Max Lents, co-founder and CEO of Baltimore Spirits Company. “With this space, we get to have a physical embodiment of that idea.”
Lents co-founded Baltimore Spirits Company in 2015 along with his friends Ian Newton, CFO, and Eli Breitburg-Smith, head distiller. All three embraced Baltimore’s artistic community and wanted to create something themselves.
“Eli was a professional brewer, and I was bar managing at the time. We sort of stumbled into this idea of doing a distillery,” says Lents. “Maryland’s distilling history dates back to the 1500s, but there weren’t any distilleries in the state at the time. We saw this huge creative void that could be filled.”
The new cocktail bar comes two years after Maryland passed new legislation allowing distilleries to sell mixed drinks to the public. Previously, distilleries were only allowed to offer small tasting portions of their spirits without mixers or ice.
“It was difficult to present our spirits in the best light with those restrictions, and it always felt like we were handcuffed in giving a good customer experience,” says Lents.
With new legislation in place, Baltimore Spirits Company can now creatively showcase its brand.
Baltimore Spirits Company’s Cocktail Gallery, located at Union Collective, offers an intimate space for up to 80 people to sample cocktails, socialize and listen to live music. Guests are invited to sign up for 90-minute tours of the distillery that include a tasting and the chance to blend their own spirit to take home.
The cocktail menu, designed by bar manager Hannah Baker, consists of art movements including Renaissance (classic drinks), Modern (modern takes on cocktails) and Surreal (funky creations).
“We’re only allowed to use our own spirits. Because we can’t use Campari to make a Negroni or vermouth to make a Manhattan, we’ve had to do creative substitutions and develop drinks from scratch,” says Lents, who is most excited about the “New Couture” cocktail, a modern take on the “Old Fashioned” made with genever and banana Earl Grey syrup.
Art is incorporated throughout the bar, from wallpaper designed by local artist Allison Crowley to an interactive light fixture called “Perspectives,” designed by artist Greg St. Pierre, which illuminates the space and projects images above the tables. A large gallery wall will also feature rotating art selections, all curated by Katsea Gallery in Towson.
“We really have one of the coolest looking spaces and after tasting our cocktail menu, I’m sure we’re going to have one of the coolest bar programs too,” says Lents. “This is the physical manifestation of our connection with the creative community in Baltimore, which is a big part of why Ian, Eli and I are all here.”
Baltimore Spirit Company’s Cocktail Gallery will be open Thursday through Sunday, 5 to 10 p.m.