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Best Places To Drink Like A Writer In Baltimore

By J.M. Giordano

Forget the critics, Baltimore is a writer's city. The list of scribes that called Charm City home is long enough to make any New Yorker turn their head. Poe, Douglass, Mencken, Fitzgerald, Hammett, Stein, Caine, Barthes, Michener, Tyler, Waters and even that Algonquin wit Dorothy Parker have a deep-rooted connection to our town. And something else those literary luminaries have in common with the city? Drinking. Here are my favorite bars for bards.

Midtown Yacht Club

15 E. Centre Street
Baltimore, Md. 21202
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Don't let the name deceive you. This is as down and writerly as you can get. The Yacht Club is all wood floors darkened with decades of use and barrels of peanuts, which can be shelled and tossed on the floor. MTYC is located a few blocks from the home H.L. Mencken shared with his beloved, but not betrothed and is now home to scribes residing in Mt. Vernon. Baynard Woods, author of "Coffin Point," frequents this pub on a nightly basis after a day at the laptop. If you see a beard, a hat and a smile, that's Woods. MTYC has an excellent beer selection and serves food until 1 a.m. daily.

Mt. Royal Tavern

1300 West Mount Royal Avenue
Baltimore, Md. 21217
(410) 225-2300
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This is THE dive bar of uptown. Not to mention that it's also about a block from the home lived in by F. Scott Fitzgerald as he was writing "Tender Is the Night." Bolton Hill is 50 percent art students (MICA is nearby) and 50 percent wealthy urbanites all who have taken a trip to the dark but welcoming bar that has some very low prices that will satisfy any would-be scribe. You can get a Pikesville Rye for $3 a glass. Eat it New York. 

The Horse You Came In On

1626 Thames Street
Baltimore, Md. 21231
(410) 327-8111
Hours: Mon – Fri 4 p.m. -2 a.m.; Sat – Sun noon – 2 a.m.
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This is it. The granddaddy of writers' bars. This Fells Point tavern is one of the oldest in the city and has the distinction of being the last bar frequented by the master himself, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe stumbled out of the Horse to meet his mysterious demise in 1849. Now a home to live music, the bar has lost none of its historical charm. It has swinging doors and an amazing bar. Oh yeah, it also has a ghost. "Edgar" has been and heard in the empty rooms above by staff and visitors alike. Into writing horror stories? This is the bar for you.

Edgar Allen Poe
Photo Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Annabel Lee Tavern

601 South Clinton Street
Baltimore, Md. 21224
(410) 522-2929
Hours: Mon – Sat 4 p.m. – 1 a.m.
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Speaking of Poe, this relatively new pub a few blocks from Patterson Park in the Brewers Hill neighborhood will inspire you to write like the master. It's Poe themed, but not too much. The famous poem is written on the wall and the long bar is lorded over by a portrait of the doomed writer. The food is excellent and the drink selection is great. It's a little further afield, but definitely worth the trip. 

Frederick Douglass
(Credit: CBS)

Hidden Gem:


The corner of Shakespeare and Register streets.
No phone.

Yep. That's the name as emblazoned on a glowing white sign. BAR. This corner dive is, ironic for our purposes, located on the tiny Shakespeare Street in Fells Point. Here's a hint, go the corner of Broadway and Shakespeare and turn left, away from the water. A few blocks from BAR is the Frederick Douglass house and a must stop on anyone's writing tour of the city. The freed slave and one of the most important African-American figures in history learned to read and write while a house slave and later worked on the docks before escaping to freedom. BAR is my favorite dive in the city if only because of the proprietress and perfect literary character Carol. Yeah.  Try to complain about something. Dare you.

J.M. Giordano is a freelance photographer and co-founder of, a guide to the underground scene in Baltimore, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paris.

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