The shock of red hair hit you first. The twinkle in his eye drew you in and the tall tales kept you playing until he took your last poker chip. The scuttlebutt was Baltimore Red hailed from Pikesville, Maryland, but the country boy made myth into legend at underground Charm City gambling parlors. Red was known for ostentation, self-aggrandizement, fast-talk, entertaining banter, as well as his tailored suits. He was renown for playing the out of town gentleman lush, ordering his cocktails “fancy”, talking up amazing feats, and then confounding opponents with hands of poker that would leave them penniless. Between the summer of 1956 and New Year’s Eve 1958, the manicured card shark took the East Coast scene by storm and then disappeared without a trace. Some say he took his game to Meyer Lansky's Havana and ended up on the wrong side of the Revolution. Others say he went west to Vegas and got busted counting cards. No one ever caught Baltimore Red’s real name or learned of his fate. However, like his velvet smooth moves and infamous bluffs, you will not forget his eponymous drink. So bet on red and enjoy.
Shot and a half of Pikesville Straight Rye, ounce of Dubonnet Rouge, a splash of Falernum, two dashes bitters – one of Peychaud's and one of aromatic. Mix it in cold bar glass, add a few lumps of ice, and stir it up a dozen or so times. Strain into a fancy cocktail glass, garnish with an orange peel, burnt if the stakes are high, ya follow?
(As described to the author by an elderly ginger haired dandy claiming to be the missing rounder on a bench in Baltimore’s Penn Station.)
Translation of recipe:
THE BALTIMORE RED
an original cocktail by Fredo
2 oz of Rye (Pikesville)
1 oz Dubonnet Rouge
2 bar spoons Velvet Falernum (John C. Taylor)
1 dash Peychaud bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers Whiskey barrel bitters (or Angostura)
1 orange peel
Combine liquids in mixing glass, add ice cubes, stir with mixing spoon until chilled, strain into cocktail glass and add orange twist (burnt twist is optional for the extra flair).
Where to get it: Fredo's Home bar